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Question

Volume 203: debated on Monday 1 August 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the honourable Member for North Devon, Whether negotiations are in progress, and, if so, when they are likely to be terminated for the transfer of the Estates of the Dean and Chapter of Durham to the Church Estates Commissioners; whether in case of such transfer the facilities hitherto enjoyed by the lessees for the enfranchisement of their leaseholds will be continued on terms of valuation recognizing their hitherto unbroken right of renewal; and, whether the Church Estates Commissioners have the power to commute the terms of enfranchisement into fixed annual payments chargeable on the enfranchised premises, and redeemable at a fixed number of years' purchase at the option of the lessee?

Sir, the negotiations for the commutation of the Durham Chapter Estates have been for some time in progress, and hopes are entertained by the Commissioners that the arrangement will be brought to a speedy termination, but it is not practicable to specify the time when the business will be concluded. The Commissioners, in the event of the property becoming vested in the Board, will afford for the enfranchisement of the Durham Chapter leaseholds the same facilities as they have given in several thousand cases of other beneficial leases, which have been dealt with in a manner satisfactory both to the lessees and to Parliament, although no unbroken right of renewal has ever been recognized. The Commissioners have the power to commute the terms of enfranchisement into fixed annual payments, redeemable at a fixed number of years' purchase; but such an arrangement has been found so inconvenient, even to the lessees, that it is never acted upon. There is, however, no objection to making arrangement for the gradual payment of the price of enfranchisement.