Amendment 13

Part of Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords am 5:00 pm ar 22 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Chief Whip (Lords), Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 5:00, 22 Ebrill 2024

My Lords, I have a number of interests to declare: first, as a leaseholder, secondly, as chair of the Heart of Medway Housing Association and, thirdly, as a non-executive director of MHS Homes Ltd.

I spoke at Second Reading and I am sure that, as we go through these few days in Committee, we will largely agree with each other that there is a major problem. We all want to see leasehold reform and commonhold reform. Everybody backs it. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, and the noble Lord, Lord Gascoigne, back it. The problem is that we are not doing anything about it. That is the shame here.

The amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, absolutely takes us forward. She includes a day to end leasehold flats, which would deliver that Tory party manifesto commitment. We should all back her if, as I hope, she divides the House at the next stage. Her amendment would deliver the Tory party manifesto commitment, but will the Government support it? Of course not. We know that. We all agree in these debates, but what we will get from the Government Front Bench is, “When parliamentary time allows”, “The next steps will follow in due course”, “We are keeping it under review”, or “We will get back to you”. That is the problem.

This is a golden opportunity that the Government have completely failed to deal with. We have sat here for years. I have asked question after question. I have been assured, “It is coming” or “Don’t worry, don’t ask questions, we are going to sort it all out”. Yet here we are and what do we get? A Bill that delivers very little. On the point about service charges and transparency, I can assure the Government Front Bench that if a leaseholder has problems with the service charge, they know they have problems. What they want from the Government are the tools to sort them out. The Government have not delivered that. They can give more transparency—great, but we need the tools for the job and they are not doing that for us.

This is very frustrating. I think we will have lots of agreement but very little action. I hope that, when we get to Report, a number of amendments will be passed and many members of the Government will support us in delivering the commitments that their party made to leaseholders at the last general election. The amendments from the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, in particular, are really good, giving an absolutely clear cut-off date.

My noble friend Lady Taylor of Stevenage asked the Government to set out their strategy for commonhold. What is it? I hope they can tell us. The current strategy seems to be, “We will get back to you. We know it is important, but we can’t do anything about it at the moment—sorry”. That is just not good enough. There are lots of great amendments here, but we need some action from the Government. I hope that, when we get to the next stage, we will divide the House many times. Where we have got to at the moment is just not good enough.

In 1880 Henry Broadhurst was elected as the Member of Parliament for Stoke-upon-Trent. He was then elected as a Member of Parliament for Nottingham West. He raised the problems of leasehold in the other place. We are still talking about them today. He was elected in 1880, and we have still made only limited progress. It is about time we made some progress here. We want more transparency and we want the Government to deliver their commitments. We want commonhold, and we want it now.