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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Before the noble Earl decides whether this matter should be pursued, I thought that I made conciliatory noises at the end when I said that if evidence could be produced that this problem was widespread we would think about it again. I should also say a word about hope value. The landlord is entitled to hope value in relation to sales of lease extensions to participants as well as non-participants.
The Earl of Caithness: I do not dispute that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, made some conciliatory noises towards the end of what he said. I hope that I thanked him for that. If I did not make it clear to begin with, let me do so now. I thank him. I was just re-emphasising the point. This is a matter on which I should like to test the opinion of the Committee, but I cannot. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Goodhart: Before that happens, perhaps I may expand a little on a point made earlier by my noble friend Lady Hamwee. If, as is still more likely than not, this Parliament is dissolved in approximately two weeks' time, it is surely clear that the Bill will not be rushed through in the last few days and will therefore fall. I can also see the attraction to the Government--in the event of their being re-elected--of bringing back the Bill early in the next Parliament on the grounds that your Lordships' House may have a certain amount of time on its hands at that stage. I ask the Government seriously to re-consider this matter. A great number of points have been made. A number of issues have been raised today at which the Government have said they will look again. It would be unfortunate if those could not be looked at because of lack of time.
Many other points have been made, of which the most important is the question of the 100 per cent requirement for the introduction of commonhold. It is no doubt possible to devise a system that would enable commonhold to be introduced with something short of 100 per cent agreement, though it would undoubtedly require substantial agreement. It is also clear that there is a large demand among leaseholders-- certainly among leasehold organisations--for that to happen. That would require fairly substantial amendment to the Bill and a number of additional provisions. Therefore, I seriously ask that the Government
Lord Lea of Crondall: Some of us noticed the implication that there would be a reasonably substantial delay. I do not know the order of these matters coming back. However, as we are debating the issue, I would put the emphasis slightly differently. We should look at the matters that need to be considered if we are to make some structural improvements to the Bill. Some of those have been highlighted. The order of the day should be to keep up the momentum. That is the message I leave with noble Lords.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Lord Bach): I am grateful to Members of the Committee who have spoken at this rather unusual stage of proceedings. I listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said and we will consider it in the reasonable way in which he mentioned it. What has struck me is the degree of consensus on the Bill and on the broad topics covered by it. By that I mean the introduction of commonhold as a form of land tenure. I listened hard but there seemed to be no disagreement at all about the concept. That is hardly surprising: our predecessors in their own turn proposed commonhold, just as we have done. For the life of me, although there are details--perhaps even important ones--that divide some of us, they have come down to very little when compared to the principle of commonhold, which is broadly accepted. That also seems to apply to the reform of leasehold. Of course there have been differences and some are important ones. On the whole, however, there has been a consensus that I and all Ministers have noted. In fact, it would be hard not to notice it from wherever one has sat in the Committee.
My noble friend Lord Lea has a serious point when he says that it would be a great shame for the many people outside the House who are looking to us--by "us" I mean the Houses of Parliament--to legislate on these important matters that affect their daily lives if somehow the Bill were to disappear, not to return again for a long time. Therefore, we will think very carefully about what the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said. In return, we should be grateful if noble Lords on all sides would consider carefully whether there is very much that divides us at this stage.
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