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Criminal Records Bureau

Lord Weatherill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No firm figures are available for voluntary sector demand. The voluntary sector has been included in the overall demand forecasts. The Criminal Records Bureau is conscious of the need to get an accurate picture of demand and

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proposes working closely with registered bodies to assess the likely demand from the voluntary sector and what types of certificate are going to be required.

Lord Weatherill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimates of the number of criminal record checks have been made by the Criminal Records Bureau for its first three years of operations; and whether they can provide a breakdown by employment sector.[HL3611]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Criminal Records Bureau has recently produced demand figures for its first three years of operations. Analysis has indicated levels of demand in the region of 2.5 million for the first year, 4.6 million for the second and 5.5 million for the third. The increase for years two and three reflect the introduction of the Criminal Conviction Certificate. A breakdown by employment sector is not currently available.

Lord Weatherill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the demand forecasts that the Criminal Records Bureau had made for the number of criminal record checks for the first five years of its operations from June 2001 in the following categories:

    (a) Enhanced Criminal Record Check;

    (b) The Criminal Record Certificate; and

    (c) The Criminal Convictions Certificate.[HL3612]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Demand forecast work is ongoing. Figures will be included as part of the Criminal Records Bureau Corporate and Business Plan. This next plan covering the period from 2001-2006 will be published in April 2001.

Dangerous Dogs

Lord Baker of Dorking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any discussions took place between the French and British Governments over the recently announced proposals in France to deal with dangerous dogs.[HL3639]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No recent discussions have taken place between the French and British Governments on the subject of dangerous dogs.

Retail Price Index

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 28 June (WA 88), what approximately would have been the retail price index excluding mortgage interest payments (RPIX) in May 2000 if the depreciation component of the retail price index for owner-occupied houses had not been introduced in 1995, but had been introduced in (a) 1985 and (b) 1950. [HL3294]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Jacobs from the National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, Mr Len Cook, dated 28 July 2000

Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 28 June (WA 88), as National Statistician I have been asked to respond to your recent Question asking what approximately would have been the retail price index excluding mortgage interest payments (RPIX) in May 2000 if the depreciation component of the retail price index had not been introduced in 1995, but had been introduced in 1985 and 1950 (HL3294).

The table attached shows index levels for RPIX and the DETR house price index (the change in the depreciation component of the RPI is measured using the DETR house price index) back to 1975 which was the first year RPIX was published. The table shows the house price index to have more variability over short periods than the RPIX. This means it is difficult to draw long term inferences about the effect of housing depreciation on RPIX based on the effect of its inclusion in the index since 1995. A historical RPIX series cannot be recalculated with the addition of depreciation as the index would have to be re-weighted for all years and this could only be undertaken at disproportionate cost.

Table showing RPIX and the DETR housing index (1990=100)


Tobacco Smuggling

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the report by Martin Taylor commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on tobacco smuggling cannot be published. [HL3661]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Martin Taylor's advice to the Chancellor was personal and confidential. It would therefore not be appropriate to disclose his advice.

However, his recommendations on how to tackle tobacco smuggling were summarised in the Government paper Tackling Tobacco Smuggling dated March 2000. A copy of this paper has been placed in the Library.

Tobacco-related Tax Revenue

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 25 July, why they refuse to state in the Official Report the amount of money raised in the last financial year from tobacco-related taxes while at the same time they are prepared to give estimates in money terms of the amount lost to the National Health Service through smoking-related diseases (11 July, WA 22). [HL3643]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I explained in my Written Answer of 11 July (col. WA 21) that excise duty receipts on tobacco products for the year 1999-2000 were to be found in Table 2.1D of Financial Statistics.

Britain in Europe and European Movement

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any government department, directly or indirectly, has contributed to the funding of Britain in Europe; and, if so, by how much; and[HL3645]

    Whether any government department, directly or indirectly, has contributed to the funding of the European Movement; and, if so, by how much.[HL3646]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: None.

Sterling Exchange Rates

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 20 July (WA 106) on sterling exchange rates, whether, 18 months after the euro was first traded on 4 January 1999, the pound sterling had:

    (a) strengthened against the Swiss franc and the euro, together with currencies formally or informally linked to the euro;

    (b) weakened against the United States dollar, Canadian dollar, Mexican new peso, Japanese yen, South Korean won, Taiwan dollar, Saudi riyal and Israeli shekel;

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    (c) moved by less than 6 per cent either way against the Norwegian krone, Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Singapore dollar and South African rand;

    (d) remained virtually unchanged against the Swedish krona; and

    (e) weakened slightly against the Indian rupee and the Thai baht;

    and whether, from a global perspective, sterling is excessively strong.[HL3708]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested can be derived from sterling exchange rates on the 4 of January 1999 and the 4 of July 2000. These were published on page 33 of the 5 January 1999 and 5 July 2000 editions of the Financial Times respectively.

Judicial Negligence

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the recent judgment of the House that solicitors and barristers no longer have immunity from negligence claims when acting as advocates, they will bring forward legislation making similar claims possible in respect of negligent judges. [HL3613]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): No.

Commonhold and Leasehold Reform: Draft Bill

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When a draft Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill, is to be published for consultation. [HL3738]

The Lord Chancellor: The draft Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill and consultation paper will be published as a command paper during the Summer Recess. Before the publication of the printed version of the command paper, a typescript copy will be laid before Parliament. Copies of the typescript version of the draft command paper will be made available in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office immediately after it has been laid before both Houses.

A summary of the proposals which are to be included in the draft Bill is set out below.

Draft Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill Part 1: Commonhold The nature and creation of a commonhold development

In England and Wales, there are two ways to own land, freehold and leasehold. Each has its advantages and disadvantages in particular circumstances. Freehold comes closest to absolute ownership. Leasehold confers ownership for a temporary period, subject to terms and conditions contained in the contract, or lease.

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A covenant is a promise contained in a deed, such as a deed passing ownership of property from one person to another. There are two types of covenant: the positive covenant, which is a promise to do something, such as to pay rent or to keep the property in repair, and the restrictive covenant, which is a promise not to do something, such as cause a nuisance to neighbours. For historical reasons, positive covenants cannot apply to freehold land once the first buyer of the property has sold it on. However, both positive and restrictive covenants apply to leasehold property.

This means that, where it is desired to set up a scheme to allow for ownership of interdependent properties and for the management of the common parts and facilities, the scheme must, today, be based on leasehold ownership. There is no satisfactory scheme at present which would allow for freehold ownership in such circumstances.

As long term residential leasehold has become more and more widely discredited, pressure has grown for the Government to bring forward a scheme which would combine the security of freehold ownership with the management potential of positive covenants which could be made to apply to each owner of an interdependent property. That scheme is commonhold.

Each separate property in the commonhold development will be called a unit. It might be a flat, or a house, a shop or a light industrial unit. The owner will be called a unit-holder. The body which will own and manage the common parts and facilities of the development will be called the commonhold association. The commonhold association will be a private company limited by guarantee, whose membership will be restricted to all the unit-holders within the development. The commonhold association will be registered at Companies House in the usual way and will have a standard set of memorandum and articles (M&A) which will be prescribed by the Lord Chancellor from time to time. This means that all the unit-holders in a development will have two interests in the property of the commonhold; a direct interest in the unit or units that they own and an interest in the commonhold association which owns the common parts.

The commonhold association with its common parts and the associated units will be registered at HM Land Registry. In order to register, the developer of the commonhold development or the sponsor of a converting development will be required to present to HM Land Registry the M&A, and the Commonhold Community Statement (CCS), which will contain the rules and regulations of the particular commonhold. There will need to be a degree of flexibility to allow for unique features of a particular development. It might be necessary to provide for the upkeep of a bluebell wood as a site of special scientific interest, or perhaps make special arrangements for a sheltered housing component in a development. Allowance for this is to be made in the CCS where in addition to the prescribed requirements, those relating to the individual attributes of the commonhold development can be set out. These discretionary elements will be registered and form part of the documentation maintained by HM Land Registry.

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If it is necessary to obtain the consent of anyone with an interest in the land, those consents must be supplied at this stage and finally, a certificate will be required to confirm that the M&As and the CCS comply with the relevant regulations. Once the required documents are produced to HM Land Registry, the commonhold will be registered.

It will be possible for a unit to consist of two separate areas of land, for instance a flat with a garage in a detached block, or perhaps a shop with a separate storage unit. Units may be divided from each other vertically, as are terraced houses, horizontally, as are flats in a block, or may be free standing, as are detached houses or, often, light industrial units. However, where the divisions are horizontal, no part of the commonhold may be over or under any part of a building which is not part of the same or an associated commonhold development. Conversion

It will be possible to convert from some other status to commonhold but only if certain criteria are met. Details will be contained in regulations, but it will be necessary to obtain the consent to conversion of 100 per cent of the existing leaseholders and/or other owners of what would become units in the commonhold. Consent will also be required from the freeholder, whether that is a company wholly owned by the leaseholders, or some third party. If a third party is involved, it will not be possible to convert without having satisfied HM Land Registry that the freeholder's consent has been freely given or his interest brought out according to the scheme developed by Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) in their part of the Bill.

It is not intended that any scheme of conversion to commonhold should give rights to commercial leaseholders or rack rented commercial occupiers which would go beyond the scheme developed by the DETR for collective leasehold enfranchisement. DETR's scheme relating to qualifying buildings and tenants and rules relating to payments to existing landlords, where applicable, will be adopted so far as is possible, with the exception that to convert to commonhold will require 100 per cent consents. Thus rules will be substantially the same for both types of conversion. Details will be contained in regulations.

At the time of conversion all leasehold interests will cease to apply as will all terms of all leases and the units will be governed by the M&As and the CCS of the commonhold association. Management of a commonhold development

It will be possible to add to and to diminish the size of the development by the purchase or sale of common parts provided that the specified majority of the members of the commonhold association is achieved at an appropriate meeting. There will be rules to govern the distribution of capital receipts arising from such a sale.

The voting rights of unit-holders in the commonhold association, the size of the various types of majority required for particular purposes, the minimum requirements for the maintenance of

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accounts and the machinery for the setting and for the payment of the commonhold assessment, which will be substantially similar to service charges, will all be set out in the standard M&As or the CCS.

The M&As or the CCS will set out the procedure for dealing with disputes arising within a commonhold. These are to be dealt with initially by use of internal procedures. Should these fail to settle matters, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) will be provided for. However, it is not intended to refuse access to the courts and tribunals as necessary, to ensure ECHR Article 6 compliance. The Bill will make provision for the making of regulations which will provide for this.

The Bill will make provision for the CCS to set out the rules governing rights of entry of the commonhold association for inspection and its right to carry out works and to recover costs of such work for cases of emergency or to facilitate its obligations to maintain and repair. Winding up of a commonhold association

The rules governing the winding up of a commonhold association will be contained in regulations. The regulations will require that the CCS sets out the rules governing the distribution of any profit arising on a voluntary winding up and other matters relating to the process.

The winding up of an insolvent commonhold association will be carried out, so far as possible, under the standard insolvency rules. Any deviation from those rules will be laid down in regulations. Part II Leasehold Reform

It is recognised that many existing leaseholders would not be able to convert to commonhold, or may not wish to do so. A range of measures is therefore proposed to help existing leaseholders. These reforms are intended to redress the uneven balance between landlords and leaseholders and give leaseholders a greater degree of control over the management of their homes which reflects the substantial investment they have made. They are also intended to prevent unreasonable or oppressive behaviour by unscrupulous landlords, and would provide flexibility to tackle any new forms of abuse that may arise in the future. Right to manage

A key feature of the proposals is a new right for leaseholders of flats to take over the management of their building without having to prove shortcoming on the part of the landlord and without having to pay compensation. This reflects the fact that the leaseholders normally have by far the greatest financial interest in the building. This new right is not intended to replace the existing right of collective enfranchisement. It would provide an alternative option for leaseholders who are dissatisfied with the management of the building. Some leaseholders may wish to have the opportunity to try managing the building themselves before committing themselves to buying the freehold. The proposals would enable them to do this and would assist subsequent enfranchisement if the leaseholders wish to do so.

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Collective enfranchisement

A number of changes are proposed to the collective enfranchisement provisions in the Leasehold Reform, Housing the Urban Development Act 1993. These are intended to meet the Government's commitment to make it easier for leaseholders of flats to buy their freeholds. The proposals would relax qualifying rules which have proved to be an unnecessary barrier to leaseholders seeking to buy their freehold. Changes would include the abolition of the residence test and the removal of the requirements that at least two thirds of the eligible leaseholders must participate in the process. The proposals would also reduce the scope for costly arguments over the price payable, including a requirement to seek permission to appeal against decisions of leasehold valuation tribunals.

Comparable changes are proposed to leaseholders' rights to acquire a new lease of their flat under the 1993 Act, and to buy the freehold of their house under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. The existing residence test would be replaced by a requirement to have held the lease for at least two years. There would be special provisions to help personal representatives of deceased leaseholders. Service charges

Major changes are proposed to leaseholders' rights in relation to service charges. Our intention is that leaseholders should have the right to challenge any charges payable under a lease. These would include the cost of improvements, which are a major concern to many local authority leaseholders, and charges for approvals or consents. The requirements for landlords to consult leaseholders would be strengthened and simplified. The threshold for consultation about major works would be related to the amount payable by an individual leaseholder, rather than the cost of the works as a whole. There would be a new requirement to consult before entering into contracts for the provision of ongoing works or services lasting 12 months or more. Disputes over compliance would be transferred to the leasehold valuation tribunals.

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