Baroness Fox of Buckley debates involving the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities during the 2019 Parliament

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Hate Crimes

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(2 months ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I have not had the same feedback as the noble Baroness. As I say, it was this Government that brought in the disaggregation of hate crimes by different religions to help provide insight into the experience of different communities. We provide ongoing support and funding to the CST in its work, and we have regular engagement with the police to understand what the picture is in local areas. I will look at the issue the noble Baroness raises, and also understand from the feedback and conversations we have what impact that has.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, will the Minister acknowledge that there are real problems in terms of legislating against hate as a crime, because it can be used to silence opposition? One of our fellow Peers has recently been accused of, and in fact punished for, bigotry, when bad-faith activists wilfully labelled a tweet against Islamists—that is Hamas—as Islamophobic. Conversely, while I consider that the virulent rhetoric and abuse directed at Zionism is often—usually—thinly disguised anti-Semitism, the same legitimate criticism of Israel is being curtailed. Should we avoid using the law, and instead argue back and condemn loudly?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, we have both systems in place. We fully support lawful freedom of speech; it generates rigorous debate and is incredibly important to our society. But it is not an absolute right, and does not include the right to harass others or incite them to violence or terrorism. It is possible to both have in place laws against hate crime while protecting and respecting freedom of speech. Sometimes the implementation of that is a carefully balanced judgment, and that is something we all need to take care with.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Friday 2nd February 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, 136: I shall repeat the number 136 because on Wednesday Ashley Waxman Bakshi asked a packed room of parliamentarians to keep reminding the world that there are still 136 hostages in Gaza, including Ashley’s cousin Agam Berger.

We are here today for Holocaust Memorial Day to keep the memory of the decades-old Holocaust alive. Yet, shockingly, even the memory of what happened on 7 October last year is already fading. That is why so many of the powerful, moving and insightful speeches that we have all heard today really matter. The largest anti-Jewish pogrom since the Holocaust is actively and wilfully being forgotten, and even denied. Indeed, when some seek to remind the world of the hostages—by, for example, putting up posters of their faces—they are treated with contempt and openly subjected to anti-Semitic abuse. Posters are venomously ripped down. One viral video shows an activist responding to a plea for humane empathy with Jewish suffering. His response was to spit out the question, “Where’s your proof?”

Sadly, such echoes of Holocaust denial are making a comeback. Indeed, the reason why Ashley and the other remarkable Israeli witnesses whom some of us heard this week are forced to tour the world’s capitals to give testimony is that—and this is a real shock—so many in official positions have demanded proof that sexual violence was used on 7 October. Often the very same progressives, NGOs and international women’s organisations that rail against #MeToo incidents and demand support for their violence against women and girls initiatives suddenly become sceptical and mute and look the other way, even with evidence that Jewish women and girls were gang-raped, sexually mutilated and degraded. This casual mood of denial was revealed in the shocking recent Economist/YouGov poll showing that more than one-fifth of young Americans agreed that the Holocaust was a myth, while many responded by saying they were not sure whether it was a myth.

Until recently, Holocaust denial was a fringe affair: the racist preoccupation of explicit anti-Semites who called it a hoax, usually associated with the far right. But today a more common form of Holocaust denial is to rip the Holocaust from its concrete and specific context and appropriate it for a range of nefarious ends. This dilution of the meaning of the Holocaust is often espoused by well-intentioned social justice warriors. The Holocaust is anything but absent from political discourse—that is one irony. The Holocaust and its perpetrators, the Nazis, are now prolifically referenced, but I am not sure that this constant go-to metaphor is that helpful. Social media is littered with people smearing their political opponents as Nazis. Newsweek headlined an article:

“Just How Similar is Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler?”—


and such an approach is commonplace.

Policies that people do not like are routinely denounced using Nazi analogies. The Rwanda plan has been compared by some campaigners to herding Jews on to cattle trucks destined for the camps. I have heard the Tories’ voter ID scheme being compared to Gestapo checks. Everything from the Brexit vote to anti-ULEZ protests has recently been denounced as proof that society is descending into 1930s-style fascism. Some animal rights activists claim that the meat industry is guilty of a holocaust of lambs, cows and chickens, while abortion fundamentalists brandish literature denouncing a holocaust of unborn babies.

I worry that when the Holocaust, as a metaphor, is so promiscuously and prolifically used that it will mean we render the Holocaust itself mundane, inevitably relativising its gravity and uniqueness. So often, it can also lead to airbrushing Jews from the story. We saw that with a number of politicians, as the noble Lord, Lord Austin, illustrated, who put out video messages on Holocaust Memorial Day and failed to mention the Jews. They were just forgotten, deliberately or not.

As many noble Lords have mentioned, we have to admit that the Holocaust has now been weaponised, specifically to attack and delegitimise the world’s only Jewish state. We have heard that from a number of noble Lords. I will not repeat their examples, but just cite the idea of young radical peace protestors unapologetically carrying placards with the star of David inside a swastika.

This relativism that now turns the barbarities of the Holocaust into an accusation against the Jewish state considers itself progressive and, worse, is mainstream. One popular progressive commentator, that Dr Shola off the telly, tweeted at the Auschwitz museum:

“I unfollowed you after your disgraceful endorsement of Israel’s extermination, ethnic cleansing & genocide of Palestinians. The museum should be ashamed of itself. Never again means never again for anyone. You’re an embarrassment to humanity”.


Think about those words. Inevitably, Dr Shola was never off the TV after she posted that.

So how should we tackle such ignorant attitudes? For many, the answer is education. As a former teacher, this makes me nervous, as too many thorny questions are outsourced to schools and colleges. Anyway, it is not that simple. After all, the Holocaust is already a compulsory part of the national curriculum and has been since 1991. One concern is that the Holocaust is rarely explained in educational settings as a specific policy designed to purge society of Jewry. Pupils rarely grasp that this was the first, and so far the only, time in history that a state attempted to murder every single member of a people—the Jews. Instead, such is the enthusiasm to make the Holocaust relatable for today’s pupils that there is a whole list of other victims, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, explained so well, often at the expense of a factual, detailed account of the Nazis’ industrialised final solution for Jews. This was more than just authoritarian rule or human rights abuses; it was an attempt at eradicating the Jews.

This drive to make the Holocaust relevant in schools today for pupils has also led to an embrace of concepts associated with identity politics. In trying to make Holocaust education so relevant as to reflect the diversity of each and every pupil, students are asked to imagine themselves as persecuted by evil Nazis—victims due to their individual identity. In the midst of this mêlée, I am afraid that Jews barely get a mention or are known about.

Fuelling relevance via identity politics is a trend, by the way, that is infecting the whole curriculum and can counterproductively encourage competitive victimhood. I remember that, in 2004, a poll carried out in nine European countries by Ipsos found that 35% of people thought the Jews should stop playing the role of Holocaust victims. Since then, often via official educational initiatives, every identity group has been encouraged to view themselves through the prism of their historic victimhood, from slavery to colonialism. Parallel to this, teachers and lecturers have embraced the idea that centuries of western accomplishments should be disparaged and demonised as hateful expressions of white supremacy.

Identitarian ideology has been given an intellectual veneer as decolonisation theory that divides the world into victims versus colonisers. Equality, diversity and inclusion policies institutionalise the divisive focus on skin colour, ethnicity and victimhood across schools and universities. This toxic mix creates a hierarchy of oppression through which, importantly, anti-Jewish hatred is justified. In the EDI schema, Jews have been designated as all-powerful colonisers, the ultimate expression of white privilege and the rightful targets of contempt and hostility among the young and anyone who cares about the oppressed.

To confuse the educational landscape further, identity politics makes it hard to be open in classroom debate about such issues. It can, for example, make it difficult to challenge any young Muslim pupils and students if they express sympathy with Islamist anti-Semitism. A decade ago, when I was giving a lesson on free speech, a vocal group of Muslim sixth-formers told me that 9/11 was a Jewish plot and that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was justified because the cartoonists had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. They also, by the way, bullied fellow Muslim classmates into silence—the kind of young people who the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, rightly referred to as the heroes and the hope of this story.

When I told this story about what had happened in the classroom to a group of teachers, some admitted that such attitudes were one reason they shied away from teaching the Holocaust. They feared that any confrontations if students put forward conspiratorial Holocaust-denial theories would mean that they, as teachers, would be branded Islamophobes—self-censorship to avoid causing offence, or even fear of more aggressive responses. Noble Lords have already mentioned Mike Freer; let me also reference the Batley Grammar School teacher who is still in hiding for fear of his life.

Before we open more learning centres or do more education-related projects, at the very least we need to ensure that educators are not silenced, cancelled or smeared for teaching truths that some identity groups find unpalatable. To ensure that the Holocaust is not forgotten and is understood, it needs to be resituated back into its unique historical context and dragged out of the jaws of identity politics and diversity dogma.

For now, the greatest memorial to the Holocaust must surely be solidarity with Jewish people, wherever and whenever they are being attacked because they are Jews. I finish by repeating “136, 136”—let us shout it to the rafters until those 136 hostages are brought home, and then Holocaust Memorial Day will be more than a slogan.

Residential Leasehold for Flats

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Thursday 30th November 2023

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I can reassure the noble Lord that the Bill does contain provisions to bring greater transparency around how service charges are brought for leaseholders, so that there is greater accountability for what those charges go to and leaseholders have a greater ability to challenge them if they think they are unfair.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, as the Minister will know, the most frustrating thing for those of us who are leaseholders is the lack of control. There is a tried and tested formula for residents’ control, which is recognised in the Bill, and that is freehold. At the very least, will the Government consider a really simple, cost-free change to the Bill, which would be a mandated share of freehold for all new flats? That would at least prove that they are really committed to tackling the issue of getting rid of toxic leasehold for ever.

Leasehold Properties: Managing Agents

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Monday 17th July 2023

(9 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, the estate agents Hamptons estimates that England’s leaseholders will collectively pay a crippling £7.6 billion in service charges this year. The Minister will have heard from the individuals. Although it is tempting to say that the case is therefore for statutory regulation of managing agents, could she comment on the real solution, which is that leaseholders should have the right easily to hire and fire managing agents themselves, as suggested by Commonhold Now, and that they should have some control over their own properties?

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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The noble Baroness is right. That is exactly why we are looking at a code of conduct, which will have teeth, and the role more widely of leaseholders when we look to the leasehold Bill that will come through.

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Empty shops are much more frequently a symptom than a cause of the problem. It may be high street decay but turning around the root causes of high street or town centre decline requires a framework to stimulate investment and activity. The British Property Federation tells me it has a model for this, called town centre accelerators. I suggest that His Majesty’s Government work with the British Property Federation to develop these across the country, especially where there is strong local leadership to deliver them.
Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I apologise that I have not been in Committee in recent sessions; I had amendments on housing. I have discovered that, as a non-affiliated Peer, it is difficult to organise the division of labour when there are so many hefty Bills going through the House.

I have a particular interest in a couple of groups of amendments being discussed today. High streets and businesses are a core levelling-up issue for so many people outside of London. The decline of the high street can illustrate viscerally the feeling of being neglected and left behind. Boarded-up shops and closing community resources such as banks and pubs can be demoralising, making it feel like the heart of a community is being ripped out. Amendments 433 and 434 from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, are important in this regard; she summed up in a compelling way why this is an important group.

A number of the amendments refer to consultations, which are very important. I was interested in the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, and the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, regarding incentives. They show that we cannot simply declare a commitment to reviving the high street; it is a bit more complicated than that, to say the least.

I want to raise the dilemma that arises when government policies with different priorities, in completely different areas from this Bill, inadvertently make matters worse for high streets. I will reflect on and support Amendment 432, from the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Stevenage, on assessing the impact of pedestrianisation.

Pedestrianisation can intuitively seem like a good idea for high streets—a positive contributor to a community atmosphere, with increased footfall and increased likelihood of people popping into premises and so on. But stop and consider Naz Choudhury who, for many years, ran the successful Temple Bar, a halal Lebanese grill and Indian food restaurant in Oxford, which permanently closed recently. Why did it close? Mr Choudhury blames a certain form of enforced pedestrianisation in the council-imposed low-traffic neighbourhoods, specifically car restrictions in the Cowley Road area of east Oxford. Mr Choudhury says:

“The council’s decision to put these bollards up along Cowley Road was the main reason people don’t want to travel here anymore”.


Obviously, that is a subjective view, but there are a lot of controversies surrounding the Government’s active travel policies, which emphasise cycling and walking over driving. Businesses are saying that policies such as LTNs are having a negative impact on them. In Haringey, where I live, many shop owners say that LTNs are causing them to lose business.

The controversy around LTNs in Cowley Road in Oxford even hit the national newspaper headlines, largely because of opposition by Clinton Pugh, who is the father of the brilliant “Little Women” actress Florence Pugh. Clinton Pugh said:

“The council have literally strangled the life out of the Cowley Road and it is having a very negative effect on businesses.”


Mr Pugh, who is the owner of two or three cafés and restaurants on the road, even put up a banner accusing Oxford of censorship, quoting Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Rather than talking to or listening to him, the council’s response was to threaten to fine him for not getting planning consent for the banner.

Beyond the celebrity stories, a serious point for this group of amendments on the high street is to note that policies such as LTNs, which I am sure are very well intentioned, can create a type of pedestrianisation that is bad for business. Too often, councils just will not listen to the complaints or look at the evidence. Cowley Road traders became so exasperated that they produced their own business impact survey of the effects of traffic-reducing measures. It revealed that at least eight shops had closed where LTNs are located; that 153 shops had been directly or indirectly affected through a loss of customers and logistical problems with deliveries to businesses and customers; and that business owners reported a decrease in turnover of 30% in some instances, with some claiming 50%. A letting agent said that the tradespeople they use had increased their call-out fee from £45 to £65 due to the time it takes to get around in a van, the extra fuel used and so on. Hospitality businesses are particularly affected. A staff member at a specialist supermarket, which people travel a long way to get to, noted:

“We don’t sell many large bags of rice now because they’re too heavy to take on the bus”.


Something that looks like “Let’s get everyone walking or on the bus, and it will all be lovely and pedestrianised” is actually destroying businesses and having a bad effect on consumers, who cannot get what they want to buy. We can see parallels between pedestrianisation and the removal of free—or any—parking spaces in town. This is a double blow to both shoppers and SMEs alike, again in the name of anti-car, active travel policies.

Oxford traders say:

“We’ve been asking for an independent business impact assessment to be carried out but the council have ignored us, so we had to do our own”.


If we are to have a levelling-up discussion, Amendment 432 would be a sensible way to sort out the pros and cons of pedestrianisation in local areas. In other words, you cannot have top-down policies that undo any possibility of local residents or businesses having a proper say. LTNs illustrate that.

Lord Etherton Portrait Lord Etherton (CB)
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My Lords, I apologise to the Committee: I should have disclosed before I spoke that I have an interest as the owner of high street retail premises.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover (LD)
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My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendment 459, led by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, to which I have attached my name. As noble Lords will know, this amendment has strong cross-party support, and countering smoking has long had cross-party support in this House. The amendment seeks to ensure that all pavement licences are smoke free. I hear what noble Lords have said about such licences, and this amendment would apply if a pavement licence is granted. It seeks to ensure that the rules inside a bar, restaurant or café apply equally to their outdoor area.

These outdoor areas were expanded in the pandemic so that there was more space between people; outdoors thus became an extension of indoors. The same smoke-free rules that apply inside should apply outside, for exactly the same reasons. As the noble Lord, Lord Young, pointed out, the Local Government Association agrees. That makes these areas more family friendly, and I point out to the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor, that the LGA argues that it makes it easier to implement if this is applied nationally.

The Government have had several opportunities to make pavement licences 100% smoke free over the last three years and have opted not to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Young, has specified those instances. This is despite the clear evidence of the health harms of second-hand smoke, strong public support for smoke-free pavement licences and examples from various councils, including Manchester, of this measure being introduced successfully.

The public health case for this policy is very clear. The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Associated health effects include stroke, lung cancer and coronary heart disease. The noble Lord, Lord Moylan, who has just spoken, probably gave up to protect his health. We are seeking to protect others’ as well.

If we continue to allow smoking in pavement seating, passers-by, customers, staff and above all children will keep being exposed to significant amounts of tobacco smoke. The risk is particularly acute for staff, as the noble Lord, Lord Young, specified, who have no choice but to be exposed to people smoking when they work. Of course, children are particularly susceptible to harm from second-hand smoke; we all know that. In Canada, where most provinces have had laws to implement smoke-free patios outside hospitality venues for years, these laws have been popular, easy to enforce and had a positive impact on health. Where smoke-free patios were introduced, second-hand smoke exposure went down by almost a quarter.

Fortunately, the world is changing, as others have said, and smoking is no longer the norm. In the United Kingdom, this House over the last 20 years or so has led the way by helping to reduce smoking—for example, by banning smoking in public in settings, and the noble Earl played his part in that. In 2019, the Government set themselves the worthy ambition of seeking to reduce the number of smokers to below 5% of the population by 2030. While the Government have announced some measures to help deliver this ambition, we are still waiting for the comprehensive strategy needed. Expanding the number of outdoor spaces that are smoke free helps to deliver what the Government say they wish to do.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, raised some of the problems that mean that pavements cannot be pavements. My particular bugbear is cyclists on pavements; they drive me mad. The noble Lord, Lord Moylan, raised some of the tensions when deciding how we regulate public spaces, drawing attention to residents who live on streets where maybe there are pavement cafés.

Those things are worth considering but I want to return to the points made at the start of this group, so well explained by the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Stevenage, and to reference the earlier group on reviving the high street. One of the very few positive outcomes of the dreadful lockdown period was the emergence of imaginative ways of creating social engagement outdoors. When lockdown was such an antisocial action that kept us apart from each other, we found ways of connecting.

Café society is indeed a positive innovation, and regardless of the differences between the weather and climate in the UK and, for example, continental Europe, Brits have taken to this way of enjoying hospitality services. It is a great boost to that industry, which suffered so badly under lockdown.

One of the advantages of this spilling out of café society on to pavements is that it has allowed smokers and vapers to have a coffee or a drink alongside a cigarette, which I consider—shock, horror—to be all very civilised. It is certainly better than huddling outside in doorways in between sips of a drink.

I find it rather galling that Amendments 458, 459 and 461—all of which, one way or another, involve restricting smoking outdoors and making those restrictions a precondition of the licence—have been added to this group. Amendments 458 and 461 emphasise that where there is consumption of food or drink, the licence holder must ensure that smoking or vaping does not affect others. This seems an impossible duty. How could it ever be monitored? It is a degree of micromanagement of the life of communities. It seems the licensee is being threatened—they must prevent smoke drift affecting those in the vicinity, or they will not get a licence.

Tobacco smoke in outdoor areas is highly diluted and dissipates quickly in atmospheric conditions. I worry about moves towards such punitive restrictions on people smoking outside, when all they are doing is indulging in a legal, personal activity. Do we need to overregulate in such a fashion? Smokers, a minority no doubt, are perfectly respectable and considerate citizens and it would be wrong in any way to imply that in some or most cases they wilfully blow smoke into people’s faces or are not mindful of others in the vicinity.

As to involving vaping in this, targeting an anti-smoking device seems just wrong-headed. So many people I know who have stopped smoking did so by taking up vaping, and they improved their health in the process. If the proposers of the amendments are worried about any exposure to tobacco smoke outdoors, this would require that a proper scientific study be brought before the House, or at the very least a national consultation. Amendment 459 goes the full hog and states:

“Pavement licences may only be granted by a local authority subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited”.


It seems that an attempt is being made to use this Bill as a backdoor route to banning smoking in public places per se.

This Bill has been packaged as empowering local decision-making. Can we note that local authorities already have the powers at their discretion to regulate smoking in licensed premises and on pavements outside pubs, bars and restaurants with exterior tables and seating? It is up to them. How can we justify using this Bill to bring in central government legislation that threatens that if pubs and cafés do not ban smoking outside, no licence will be given to them? This seems wholly disproportionate.

We should note that such prescriptive rules could well lead to fewer customers, more high street closures and, certainly for many citizens who as adults choose to smoke, less freedom. It goes against the spirit of a levelling-up Bill when you have an imposition from the top of a kind of “we know best approach” to local matters and individual matters such as smoking, and it will grate with many people.

I appreciate that some people do not like people smoking. Some people find it loathsome. One noble Baroness has boasted about not tolerating smoke drift. There are a lot of things that I do not like and that I would rather not tolerate. I am not keen on people chewing gum or putting on make-up in public or eating with their mouth open or talking loudly or on babies crying when I want to sit quietly with my latte and read my book outside a café, but—my goodness—this is society. We tolerate each other; we rub along. There is something really positive about a café society. We should not use it as an excuse to bring in unnecessary regulations that set us at odds with one another as a means of policing and supervising personal, legal behaviour.

To finish, I do not know whether this will encourage or discourage, but I have noticed that smoking on the Terrace outside the Lords has been banned but somehow smoking on the Terrace of the other place is perfectly okay, and guess what? It is packed with people who work in the House of Lords or sit as Peers in the House of Lords because it is the only place to go—not to damage people but just to relax and have a cigarette with a coffee. They are not breaking the law.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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Before my noble friend gets up to respond to this debate and at the risk of upsetting the mood of the Committee, I remind noble Lords that we have done three groups. We have another 19 to go and we are going to finish tonight, so unless anybody does not wish to have any sleep, I suggest we perhaps cut our speeches down just a little bit if we can.

Residential Leasehold

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Wednesday 17th May 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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No, we do not intend to extend legal aid. For leaseholders who are considering what to do in future, we have made it very clear that it will be in this Parliament, and they just need to wait and take advice at this time until we can get these changes in place.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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What is the Minister’s response to the revelation from the Commonhold Now campaign that, according to polling, 60% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 support the abolition—not the reform—of leasehold? Perhaps that might concentrate minds.

The Minister says that she cannot at the Dispatch Box pre-empt what is in the King’s Speech, but it is at the Dispatch Box here and in the other place that the Minister and the Secretary of State have constantly assured the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and others that leasehold will be abolished. If it is too difficult for this Government to do, maybe that says more about them than it does about leasehold law.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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We have made it very clear that we wish to extend the benefits of freehold ownership to more home owners. That is why we have committed to ending the sale of new leasehold homes and houses to reinvigorate commonhold, so it can finally be a genuine alternative to leasehold. But, as I have said before, we know that, on commonhold work for flats, the Government, industry and consumers will all need to work together, which is why we established the Commonhold Council to prepare home owners and the market for what we want to do, which is to give this freedom to more home owners.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, and the noble Lord, Lord Young, for explaining so very comprehensively what the issues are. The key question is whether the Government have done enough. I do not intend to go into all the detail but I have a couple of observations and a query, because I really do not know how to solve this crisis and I need to be convinced that what is being put forward is the solution.

One thing that has been very important is that so many categories of leaseholders were left out of previous arrangements. That has caused immense pain, hardship, a sense of unfairness and so on, as has been described. As we have heard, in the popular imagination this is all about solving the cladding crisis, but actually it goes far beyond cladding and covers a wide range of remediation work. Also, we have ended up in a ridiculous situation of people in the wrong size blocks of flats still having to pay but not being covered by protection and legislation.

I really appreciate all these different difficult dilemmas, and like everybody I had hoped that the work that had been done in the building safety legislation that many of us were involved in would be a great source of relief and excitement for leaseholders. It has not been. People are still absolutely in a very bad situation. The Government have to know that because I know they want to help. Therefore, we should consider our options.

These are my slight concerns. A lot of the problems that leaseholders face are based on the way that people are reacting to remediation work that will need to be done because of the building safety legislation that we passed. There is an atmosphere of risk aversion that means you cannot sell a leasehold flat now because of all the reasons that have been given. The lenders say, “Well, it’s leasehold; there may be future remediation work to be done”, and so on. It has become an absolute nightmare. It seems ridiculous, in the middle of a housing crisis, that people are unable to sell their flats, not because they are too expensive but because they cannot proceed. There is a kind of glut in the flat market at the moment: people cannot move on but people also cannot buy the flats that they urgently need to live in.

My concern is to make sure that we do not always describe this through the issue of critical safety work. Even during the building safety discussions, I was concerned that we would become too risk averse—that the whole process of building and construction would be so mired in fear of what might happen and the idea that fires would burst out at any moment that it would become impossible to build anything with the stipulations that were put forward. With the broader problem of housing supply and the housing crisis, I am terrified that we will end up with nobody building anything anymore because there will be too many risks in doing so because of the legislation that we have brought in. That is one problem.

The other thing that I am concerned about in relation to the polluter pays issue is that we might end up destroying the construction industry. I am more than aware of the fact that there are problems with parts of the construction industry. I do not doubt that there are what used to be described as cowboy builders and so on. I see serious problems when I look at all the work being done by the leaseholder groups to expose the terrible circumstances where people are living in flats that are not fit for purpose. I am not suggesting in any way that those things are not true but I am also very wary of demonising the construction industry and effectively destroying it at the very time when I want it to be hyperactively building houses all over the place to solve the problems of homelessness, the fact that people have nowhere to live, the affordability crisis and so on. Maybe the noble Lords could just answer how we deal with that.

So that we do not focus just on the construction industry as though it is solely the bad guys, I say that I am very frustrated about the fact that the banks are embroiled in holding things up. They will not lend to people who want to buy leasehold properties. That is a real problem; is it something we need to look at? As has already been discussed, and I have raised in past contributions, the role of the insurance industry has also been hugely problematic, with the cost of insurance. That all trickles down and the leaseholders end up being the people who suffer. As I said, I am very nervous about making our focus just on the construction industry.

The thing about the polluter pays model that I am concerned about is who gets labelled as the polluter. I have just walked past the demonstration in which the polluter in that instance apparently is the fossil fuel industry, the energy industry, or people who create cars. Those demonstrators say that the polluter should pay for all the problems in society. I am wary that this is oversimplistic as a solution. However, I say to the Government and to the Minister that saying that the status quo ante is sufficient is a betrayal of the promises that they, and in fact many of us, made to leaseholders last year.

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, I have been trying not to get into a lot of the groups on the Bill but I regret not getting into this one. Amendment 198 makes such good sense because politics is a fairly dire arrangement these days. A lot of voters have lost interest and do not trust us. Getting people involved at the local level is an excellent way of stimulating their appetite for more politics at different levels, so I very much support Amendment 198.

I quite like Amendment 209, but somehow “environmental issues” is just thrown in—you have to say it, do you not? I do not know what it means. I would like it to mean a lot but I am not sure that it means very much at all.

The noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, quotes to us the Conservative Party manifesto when the Government have broken so many promises and back-tracked on so many things. I hardly think it is a very good example for any of us to hold up as something we need to follow. Plus, his comments about the green belt were absolutely outrageous. It is not for people with gardens or people with country estates; it is for people who live in inner cities, who have no gardens or green space to walk about in. The green belt has a huge value for them, so please let us not forget that.

Amendment 211 is from the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, and the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, for whom I have huge respect, by the way. My telling him that the Conservative Party manifesto might as well be thrown in the bin—as it has been by the Conservative Party—does not mean that I do not have huge respect for him. Again, this amendment is about economic growth. We went through this in the Budget. Growth is not about well-being or prosperity; it is about grabbing more and more of the earth’s resources. It is not necessarily something that we want to keep promoting. If we are going to talk about growth, can we please talk about well-being, green spaces and environmental support, and not just constantly about businesses, inward investment and that sort of thing?

Let us please try to remember that we have a climate crisis. It does not matter whether you believe it or not; the fact is that the IPCC has published a report that was gone through by dozens of Governments and hundreds of scientists. They all quibbled over it, but they finally came to a report that is absolutely devastating. We really should be looking at that. Every time we put down an amendment, we should have that at the back of our minds, so that we say things that will help us in the future and help our children and grandchildren. At the moment, we are not doing that.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I was not going to speak, but the noble Lord, Lord Young, summed up one of the problems with this Bill in general: we have an important Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill that does not tackle the crisis of housing supply—something I talked about at Second Reading.

I want to clarify at this stage in the evening that, while the points made by the noble Lord about the green belt are not by any stretch of the imagination that every part of the green belt should be built on or concreted over, it is a misnomer to suggest that the green belt is a beautiful green area for people who do not have country homes, gardens or parks to go to. Lots of it is actually unusable by the public. What the noble Lord suggested was a review. If the review indicated that it was valuable for the well-being of the nation, that would be fine, but it would be able to show that huge swathes of the green belt are misnamed and could be productively used for housing for young people and people who are desperately in need of homes.

My final quick point is that economic growth has to be the solution for austerity and the cost of living crisis. You cannot tackle the fact that people are too poor unless you produce more. That is called economic growth. Austerity is unpleasant, nasty and brutish, even when dressed in eco clothes. We need more growth, not less, especially at this time. People’s well-being will not be tackled or helped if they do not have the proceeds of economic development and growth.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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This is utter nonsense—absolute nonsense.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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I appreciate that we disagree. I thought the point was that we would disagree well in Committee. I have sat and listened to this debate for many hours. I just wanted to clarify why I think economic development is important: we will not be able to build any houses and nobody’s well-being will be helped if we stand still economically or go backwards. I do not relish austerity for the masses. Therefore, I think we need economic growth, mass housebuilding and the supply side to be tackled.

Baroness Pinnock Portrait Baroness Pinnock (LD)
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It is with trepidation that I follow the last two speakers, the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones and Lady Fox. I will say just one small thing about the green belt. The green belt, as part of local plan making, is reviewed and, as appropriate, areas are taken out of the green belt for housebuilding and development. That is what happens. It happens at the right time and place when there is proper public consultation.

I start with Amendment 198 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Stevenage. I have lots of sympathy with the idea of deliberative democracy. It is always worth exploring new ways of engaging with local people, involving them in developing ideas and understanding about what is going on, and helping to inform decisions before decision-makers finalise plans. I am concerned that the plan the noble Baroness lays out in Amendment 198 will probably work okay in a district council, but in an area such as the one where I am a councillor, for 450,000 residents, it becomes more challenging.

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, I rise to speak only to Amendment 178B, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, in the interests of embracing an extraordinarily rare consensus. It would be ideal, for the Green group, for my noble friend Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, former London Deputy Mayor and long-time London Assembly member, to be here, but unfortunately she is otherwise engaged, so you get me, a resident through many of the years that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, was talking about. I say “embracing a rare consensus” with enthusiasm, because I was buoyed last week by the fact that we saw the Government table their own amendment to the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill following a Report stage at which the noble Lord, Lord Vaux of Harrowden, had put down an amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, and I had both signed it, and that actually ended up in law. So, you never know; maybe the same kind of unusual consensus of the noble Lords, Lord Moylan and Lord Greenhalgh, the Greens, the Lib Dems and others all backing Amendment 178B might get to the same outcome. We can but hope.

I think the case has already been very strongly made for this: this is democracy. But I just want to make one additional point, which is that the London Assembly is, of course, elected through a proportional system, so the majority there reflects the views of the majority of the public. That is unlike local authorities, which are elected by first past the post systems yet need only a simple majority to overrule the administration’s budget.

We heard a lot in our debates on the Bill earlier today about tidying up and fixing up past inequities and infelicities; well, this would be a real democratic addition and a real tidying up. I entirely back the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, and all the others who have signed this amendment. Let us see where we can get with it.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I rise to support Amendment 176, in particular, in the name of the noble Lords, Lord Moylan and Lord Greenhalgh. Beyond the focus of the amendment on low emission zones, I think in this Bill—which promotes, after all, outsourcing a range of decisions to greater numbers of local and regional bodies—one area where local authority decisions are clashing not just with mayors but with local citizens, in terms of their needs and wants, is in restricting and controlling people’s car use and movement, in the name of tackling the supposed triple threats of air pollution, climate change and congestion.

Lord Stunell Portrait Lord Stunell (LD)
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My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 20 in this group, calling for the provision of safe and affordable homes for all. It references a definition of affordable homes that appears in Amendment 242, to which we will come in due course.

Mission 10 in the White Paper—although they are not actually numbered as such, but it is the 10th mission —sets a target that is only seven years away, focusing on creating a secure path to home ownership. According to the technical annexe to the White Paper, it aims to ensure that everyone has access to good-quality housing, with a particular focus on improving areas where quality is low—I underline that. That is a very big ambition and a very worthy one, and seven years is an awfully short time to deliver it.

It is very important because it is also going to be the gateway to tackling a whole set of other missions, which the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, set out in her speech on Amendment 7—which of course we support very much. Health and well-being are essentially connected to the housing quality of the people who are being measured, and that includes their overall capacity to participate properly in education. Is there somewhere for children to spread out their homework? Is there a bedroom that they can sleep in properly? There is no argument that this is a good idea, and indeed the Government have, within planning policies, an intention at least to make sure that affordable housing is provided.

However, what those non-governmental organisations, the homeless organisations and many local councils’ housing departments fret over is that affordability as defined in the planning regulations is actually unaffordability in real life. If we do not shift that definition of affordability and take a more realistic view about what it is, it is absolutely clear that, however much effort is put into housing and affordable housing, it will fail to deliver what the Government want to achieve by 2030. Homes will be simply too expensive for lower-income purchasers, while renters will remain trapped in overpriced and undermaintained property well beyond that seven-year target.

This amendment is designed to come to the rescue. It sets out clearly a route for the Government’s missions to deliver genuinely affordable and safe housing for everyone, creating enough space in the housing market for people with limited means to afford a roof over their head through either renting or buying or through shared ownership schemes. The amendment also requires homes to be safe. I have to say to noble Lords that 10 years ago it would not have been seen as necessary to include that point in a Bill, but the devastating revelations following the horrific Grenfell Tower fire have undermined that complacent view. Again, we know from Shelter and others working in the field that too many people are living in unsafe as well as unaffordable homes.

However, the substantive part of this amendment and the part I want to explore a little more is “an affordable home for all”. It is a great slogan, and of course it is at the heart of the housing debate currently running in our town halls and planning departments, and of course throughout the Government and particularly among their Back-Benchers, among many others. Every local planning authority has an affordable housing policy—and so do the Government. As I am sure the Minister will tell us, they are spending a lot of money on it. Why, then, does it turn out that so many affordable built under these carefully crafted policies are in fact unaffordable to those who need them most? The fact that undermined so many good intentions is that affordability in planning policy is being calculated by the Government by reference to house prices and not by reference to buyers’ income or spending capacity. Obviously, a home which is going on the market at 80% when the 100% figure is £1 million is a very different animal from one that is going at a time when the housing price is £500,000 or £250,000.

This amendment addresses the slippery word “affordable” head on and proposes a definition of affordable that is based on the income of those seeking a home and not, as at present, a notional discount on current market prices. That definition is set out in detail in Amendment 242, which obviously we shall come to in a different group in due course, which is referenced as “Meaning of ‘affordable home’” in Amendment 20. Briefly, we define affordable in terms of local housing allowance for units provided for renters and as a percentage of income in relation to the mortgage costs for buyers. It provides a fundamental reshaping of the term “affordable” so that there is an objective framework within which policies and funding can be deployed, with the knowledge that the homes delivered via that policy will be affordable to those in pressing need of them.

If we continue to misuse the term “affordable homes” in our public discourse and policy-making, we will continue to miss the targets and the Government will fail in their missions. Much worse than that, families across the country will continue to be left out and left behind, and the circle of deprivation will continue with it. I will add that many of the other missions which also have deadlines of 2030 will be compromised or fail completely. This amendment opens the door to a solution by reframing “affordable” in terms of the income of the family rather than the capital price of the home, and I beg to move.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, my Amendment 21 joins a queue to add, amend or clarify missions. This queue can feel a little like a fanciful—farcical, even—wish list, but the Government only have themselves to blame for the fact that some of us are just trying to pin down these missions rather than rely on guesswork.

My guess is that, as much as the Bill relates to planning, it is not unreasonable to assume that there will be a housing mission. Indeed, in the missions published in February 2022 we are told so. However, I was shocked when I read its content: increase home ownership and housing standards, tick; more first-time buyers in all geographical areas, tick; and a 50% reduction in non-decent rented homes, tick. But, extraordinarily, there is no mention of increasing the supply of houses or of targets to build more homes at a time when we need that to happen with missionary zeal if we are to stand a chance of making levelling up more than a slogan.

If the Government are serious about increasing home ownership, having more first-time buyers and ensuring that the rented sector expands and improves, we need more houses or the policy will run into the housing affordability road block. We heard a lot about affordability from the previous speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Stunell. At present, the average home costs over eight times average annual earnings, as against the historic norm of three to four times. Put bluntly, house prices and rents have risen beyond what any reasonable person would think it acceptable to spend on one of the most basic human needs. Those high prices and rents are responsible for many of the social ills that the Bill is allegedly designed to address—from worsening living conditions, falling home ownership, rising homelessness and the spiralling costs of housing benefit.

Half of all first-time buyers—rising to two-thirds in the south-east—rely on the so-called “bank of mum and dad”, which is fine if you have parents who can do that for you, although, with more and more mums and dads suffering the brunt of the cost of living crisis, that might be on the wane, anyway. Those who cannot turn to their parents are not only left behind but, ironically, end up paying a lot more in rent each month than their peers with a mortgage. Meanwhile, renters in London spend 40% of their income on rent, which is simply unaffordable, and rental prices are being pushed up by supply not meeting demand. We therefore need to build more houses to bring prices into line with earnings, whether we are buying or renting.

The hugely impressive housing campaign group Priced Out, staffed by young people who are passionate about housing, explains this well. It says:

“The affordability of housing is a significant concern for millions of people. If we don’t fix the root cause of this problem, we will continue to ruin lives and futures”.


Priced Out has hopes that the Bill will tackle that root cause. So do I, and that is what my amendment is about.

Of course, there is more to this than a demand for paper targets. Just because something is written down, I do not necessarily trust it. Over the years, we have all heard endless pledges from Governments of all stripes included in all political parties’ election manifestos, yet we still have a supply problem. The UK remains one of the slowest and least prolific homebuilding countries among all 28 members of the OECD. Too often, under previous Administrations’ versions of housing missions, we have seen distractions from the core issue of increasing the supply side.

This Government in particular have tended to fall back on headline-grabbing demand-side quick fixes, such as help-to-buy schemes. However, this arguably makes things worse. Demand skyrockets by giving young, aspiring homeowners a state loan. But that means that prices go up, especially if we plod along with a fixed, stagnating supply of homes.

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Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I commend the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, for keeping the issue of the problems facing leaseholders very much alive, to the point of nagging, repetition and maybe boring the Government into submission. It is so important that he has done that, and those who support him really deserve to be commended.

That is why I support Amendments 42 and 43, but they should not be controversial at all; they should be welcomed by the Government. I also commend recent announcements by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, clarifying—I hope—that the Government are committed to abolishing leasehold and will bring that forward imminently. Hear, hear for that. On this issue at least, many of us across the House, regardless of political differences, will be keen and willing to work with the Government on what we can maybe call the 13th mission of abolishing leasehold.

I want to look at what this has to do with levelling up, because it is a key point. There are 4.6 million leaseholders in the UK and many are first-time buyers, which the Bill seeks to encourage more of. Many of them are from parts of the country that the Bill seeks to level up. We should remember that, in earlier iterations of regional development, the regeneration and gentrification of so-called neglected city and town centres across England and Wales took the form of building blocks of flats. One argument was that densifying areas by building on brownfield sites would allow new housing without urban sprawl or nimbyist objections. My goodness, we even saw such blocks spring up in towns such as Buckley—the place I am from. We joked at the time about the area going posh, with its apartments and café society, never imagining that this would be a source of problems for people rather than a dream come true.

It is tragic to see endless newspaper reports of how this has turned into a nightmare for so many. A recent Manchester Evening News report says that leaseholders in one of the city’s most eye-catching apartment blocks are

“‘pulling their hair out’ over what they claim are ‘obscene’ management fees”

and monthly service charges exceeding £500—for a service charge in Manchester. Think about it; that is a lot of money. It is often even more than mortgage payments.

We should also remember that Margaret Thatcher’s home-owning democracy project of right to buy meant that many former council tenants bought their own home. In fact, they became leaseholders. These former local authority properties are now in the general housing stock and they are relatively cheaper to purchase, especially in London and the south-east. That makes them popular, affordable options as they put home ownership within the grasp of those who otherwise would be priced out of the market. Indeed, when I bought my first house—well, the only house I have ever bought—at 40, it was in those circumstances: the only way I could afford it was to buy an ex-council flat. That was me declaring my interest as well.

Sadly, it has all been a bit of a con, which was only revealed because of Grenfell, as has been explained. It has become clear that leaseholders are not home owners at all. Yes, they have the huge debt in the form of a mortgage, but really leaseholders are a sort of glorified tenant. I will come back to this with my Amendment 210 later in the Bill. However, unlike renters, leaseholders not only have the mortgage but are saddled with maintenance costs, not just of their own property but of whole blocks in the local area. They have no control over expenditure. We should note that there is a new leasehold crisis on the horizon, with local authorities demanding ever-spiralling costs from their leaseholders for building repairs, as councils rush to renovate poor-quality housing to meet the Government’s decent homes standard and to remedy flats to comply with recent fire and building safety legislation.

Council renting tenants are rightly not liable for such maintenance and repair costs, but the bill for entire blocks is then divided between local authority freeholders and individual leaseholders, who have no right to decide the scope or timing of proposed works, or, in fact, to request comparative quotes for contracts. That means that leaseholders are footing the bill for years of underinvestment in council housing stock.

Growing numbers are getting demands for eye-wateringly unaffordable sums. Neil Hosken, a south London teacher, has received a bill for £44,000. In Lambeth, there have been shock bills of up to £98,000. Sebastian O’Kelly from the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership says that his organisation is contacted every week by residents—leaseholders in council blocks—facing financial ruin, and one local council has officials to deal with right-to-buy sales on one side of the desk and on the other officials dealing with buying back council flats from leaseholders who have been wiped out by major works bills. It will be a real problem if we have a Bill about levelling up and we do not tackle this. We will be fooling ourselves if we do not deal with it.

Meanwhile, leaseholders of private flats find themselves, to quote one, “Fighting off one money-making caper after another by landlords and managing agents”. I take the point that we are talking about rogue incidents of freeholders who rip people off, but leaseholders none the less feel that they are being overcharged for insurance, utilities and everything from window cleaning to major building works. The main thing is that they do not have any control.

I think the reason why the Government rightly and perfectly reasonably say that home ownership is something that many people should aspire to, and the reason why a lot of people do aspire to it, in particular many young people, is because people want to have the freedom, autonomy and control of owning their own little place—or big place—so that they will not be dependent on the landlord or anyone else. That is what you think you are getting, but instead leasehold robs you of that control, which instead often belongs to absentee or offshore freehold landlords or their agents, or councils. It is they who call the shots on what happens in your block and even in your own flat. That is why the issue of control of insurance costs is fast becoming a critical battlefield in excessive charges for leaseholders, who are forced to pay towards a group insurance policy but have no control to, as it were, “go compare” which is the best insurance policy to choose.

I do not know whether noble Lords have been following the heroic work of Angie Jezard from Canary Riverside, who spent three years of her life uncovering that she and her fellow leaseholders had spent £1.6 million in secret insurance commissions to a freehold-linked company. This is potentially corruption, and leasehold campaigners and their tireless volunteer legal reps, such as Liam Spender, estimate that excessive costs have been paid that run into thousands of millions across the UK. That is why the proposals in Amendment 42 from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, on mandatory disclosure and so on, are important as a first step, but as I hope I have illustrated, and as he has regularly illustrated, the myriad problems associated with leasehold as a system mean that it has to be abolished. This is a Bill that suits that cause, because we can say that we believe in levelling up and that the whole system of leasehold is holding back that project when it comes to housing.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I declare my residential and commercial property interests as set out in the register. I am also proudly now a vice-president of the Local Government Association—finally.

I rise, as I naturally do, in support of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, who is flanked by his formidable wife, the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, who sticks up just as doggedly for Generation Rent. I am very pleased to support this amendment. It is a grand coalition, if you like, of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, my noble friend Lord Young—who I used to describe as part of the awkward squad, but obviously I am on the Back Benches now so that is irrelevant—and the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, who are poised to ensure that this is taken really seriously by the Government. That is why, as a former Leasehold Minister, I join and add my voice.

I want to summarise each of these individuals in one word, which is hard, but I have thought about it for about five minutes. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, is dogged—I can remember that there was not a single week when I was a Minister when he would not pop up, and probe, and cajole, and gently swipe, to get stuff done on behalf of all those poor leaseholders when it came to leasehold reform, and to ensure that we got the Building Safety Bill that we needed; that is a truly great contribution and I recognise that.

But I am going to answer some of the points that he raised, because unfortunately I am a bit immersed in the policy detail. There was some action by this Government. When I was the Leasehold Minister, we brought in the first stage of leasehold reform that removed escalating ground rents from the equation, which was the fuel that generated the whole business of leaseholders being exploited by very tricky freeholders. It was the first part of the LKP model—the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership model—of reform, so we got stage 1 done. Now we are set for stage 2 that brings in very important measures for existing leaseholders to enfranchise and get a share of the freehold.

Equally, I chaired many a session of something called the Commonhold Council. I am a commonholder in France and I know that you can be a commonholder in Scotland. It is a tenure that I support and it is something that we want to see widespread adoption of. But we have got to recognise that we have to kill this exploitative business for the future, and that has been partly done by the first stage of leasehold reform. We have got to set a direction that encourages people to have a share in their freehold, and also do what Labour failed to do—I am sorry to be party-political here—under someone called Tony Blair and get it right this time to see the widespread adoption of commonhold.

So the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, is dogged, and I turn to my noble friend Lord Young, who for me is forensic. There is no element of parliamentary procedure that has not been read by my noble friend Lord Young: he reads everything. The message to the Government is, “Publish the Bill”—which is what the Law Commission advised as well. So I say to my noble my friend the Minister, “Publish the Bill”. We can then start the pre-legislative scrutiny in a constructive way, reaching across the aisle and working together to make this the best possible Bill before we run out of parliamentary time.

I am going to describe the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, as philosophical—we have got dogged, we have got forensic and we have got philosophical. What we have before us—a brilliantly crafted amendment —is the opportunity to level up home ownership, and that is why I am here in support of this grand coalition.