Amendment 258

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - Committee (10th Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 20 April 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Taylor of Stevenage Baroness Taylor of Stevenage Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 7:00, 20 April 2023

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Berkeley for once again using his very detailed, particular knowledge and expertise of issues around the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall. As ever, we are grateful to him for speaking up for those communities. The question he asks is an important one: why should anybody be exempt from proposals in this Bill, never mind the Duchy of Cornwall?

I will start with Amendment 504GJI on leasehold. We have had long and protracted discussions around leasehold in the course of discussions on this Bill previously. My noble friend Lord Berkeley referred to the Law Commission report on leasehold and the recommendations that people should be able to buy out freehold. I cannot see any reason that Law Commission report has not been acted on, and I hope the Minister will be able to enlighten us about that.

Certainly, it does not seem to us that there should be exemptions that sit outside of that for any reason. If the Law Commission has looked closely at the rationale for the exemptions that were put forward by the Duchy and not found those to be reasonable, it seems that the Government should treat the Duchy of Cornwall in the same way as they treat everybody else. As we have heard the Secretary of State say number of times now, if the Government intend to end the feudal leasehold system, will the Duchy of Cornwall be exempt from that, too, or will the Duchy of Cornwall’s properties be included in that legislation? If the Minister cannot provide the answer today, I am happy to take an answer in writing to that question.

My noble friend Lord Berkeley was kind enough to provide information about the issue related to the Isles of Scilly steamship company to us in advance of today’s session, and the point that he makes is a very valid one. For the communities on the Isles of Scilly, this really is an issue of levelling up. He has given us information on the very steep fare increases on that steamship company, and I understand the fare is now some £89. People on the Isles of Scilly will need to use that service. Their choice is either to travel by air, which we do not want to encourage, or to use this steamship company. A strange situation has developed here; it is a situation that I wish I had had in my borough, where when you find you have to go into competition to deliver something if you use government funding, you suddenly find, after 10 years of asking for government money, that the money has appeared miraculously. That does seem a very strange situation. There needs to be close attention to the way these issues are treated. They are issues of levelling up, because communities on the Isles of Scilly want to know they are being treated in the same way as other communities in the United Kingdom. I support my noble friend Lord Berkeley’s amendment.