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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is it not the position that the policy of critical dialogue and quiet discussion with Zimbabwe has failed? Has not President Mbeki of South Africa admitted that it has failed? Is it not now time for a much firmer policy? Given that all the principles outlined by my noble friend Lord Blaker are being flouted by President Mugabe, is it not time for the Commonwealth leaders to warn that if things have not improved by the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Zimbabwe will be asked to leave the Commonwealth?
Moved, That Standing Order 46 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill to be taken through its remaining stages this day.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)
The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 1, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 4, 11, 23, 33, 35, 40, 41, 42, 48 and 76. However, I should like to point out to the Committee that I propose to speak separately with regard to Amendments Nos. 35, 40 and 41. Therefore, although the amendments are grouped together and are connected, my introductory remarks will focus initially on all the amendments other than Amendments Nos. 35, 40 and 41. The amendments in this group are designed to reinstate the proposal in the consultative document that the length of lease that must be registered should be reduced from 21 years, as at present, to 14 years rather than the seven years stated in the Bill.
It is acknowledged in the report at paragraphs 1.17 and 3.14 that there was no consensus on consultation for an immediate reduction to seven years. The amendment would reduce the immediate change in the law and impose a smaller initial burden on the property industry, the conveyancing profession and the Land Registry's resources than the proposal in the Bill. If experience of that limited change suggests that a further reduction is desirable and will not overstretch the industry, the professions and the registry, it will then be possible after consultation under Clause 5(4) to make that reduction by order. We believe that that would be much more practical.
If, initially, only 14-year and longer leases are compulsorily registrable, and seven-year leases are only required to be registered as from a later date, for a while there will be unregistered leases of between seven and 14 years in existence that will have been granted before the further change is made. However, this will not delay the time when unregistered conveyancing becomes obsolete, because there will anyway, for 21 years after the date on which the legislation comes into force, be unregistered leases still in existence which were granted before that date for terms of up to 21 years.
The proposal to make all seven-year and longer leases compulsorily registrable is a major change in the law. It will cause equally major changes in practice, all of which are best introduced by stages thereby
Amendments Nos. 35, 40 and 41 are specifically intended, first, to apply to leases of manors the principle suggested for leases generally--namely, that, in the first instance, compulsory registration should apply to leases of 14 years or more rather than seven years or more; and, secondly, to exclude altogether from registration leases of manors for five years or less, which are unlikely to be dealt with. I beg to move.
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