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Amendments, Repeals And Transitional Provisions

Volume 932: debated on Friday 20 May 1977

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I beg to move Amendment No. 14, in page 13, line 15, after 'of', insert 'the relevant provision of'.

): With this, we may take Government Amendments Nos. 15 and 17.

These amendments are designed to ensure that the various parts of the Bill become effective as soon as practicable.

The provisions of the Bill which prohibit the creation of new rentcharges and provide for the extinguishment of existing ones will come into force, together with some of the miscellaneous and general provisions, one month after Royal Assent. The provisions which set up the new apportionment and redemption procedures will come into operation at a later date to be appointed by order.

As the Bill stands, the two schedules to the Bill would also come into force on the later date. However, some of the provisions in the schedules are amendments to or repeals of provisions giving power to create rentcharges. Therefore, these provisions should come into force on the same day as Clause 2, that is, a month after the passing of the Act.

I welcome the amendments, but they do not entirely meet the problem which we discussed in Committee, namely, when will the Bill be brought into operation? We have not had a satisfactory answer to that question. If it depends on regulations being made, will the Department send the regulations in draft to all sorts of organisations—to everybody, indeed, except Members of Parliament—for their comments so that months pass before the regulations are made?

I recall—and this is not entirely irrelevant, Mr. Deputy Speaker—that the Lotteries Bill, which the Government took over from me two years ago, came into operation only 18 months after its passage because we were waiting for the regulations not from the Department concerned with the present Bill but from another Department. In that time, about £60 million was lost to some of the organisations about which we have been speaking today. We do not want delay of that sort to occur in respect of this Bill.

I hoped that the Under-Secretary of State would bind his Department by giving an undertaking that the Bill would come into operation in perhaps two or three months, giving sufficient time to make the regulations, but we do not want a series of consultative documents on the regulations going out to local authorities, Government Departments, property federations and residents' associations while we wait for the legislation to be brought into operation.

I do not oppose the amendments. I simply ask for an assurance that the apportionment and redemption parts of the Bill will be put on the statute book as quickly as possible.

I give the assurance that all the provisions of the Bill will be brought into operation at the earliest possible date. One danger in fixing a date is that one looks well ahead and tries to make arrangements for all the difficulties which may cause delay. I should much prefer to be able to bring the Bill into effect as soon as practicable. I do not think that a lot of consultation will be needed, as the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) suggested. At this stage, I would rather not specify a date but prefer to say that we shall deal with the matter as soon as possible.

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that before debate on the Bill is concluded in the Lords the Government will indicate a date from which they expect it to be operative?

I shall try to do that, but I do not wish now to specify a date because there may be a tendency to specify a date some way off which allows for all eventualities.

I accept the amendments. I, too, urge on the Department the need for speed, because people expect to be able to rid themselves as soon as possible of what has always seemed to be a hardship or an irritation.

Amendment agreed to.

12.45 p.m.

Amendments made: No. 15, in page 13, line 21, after 'of, insert' paragraph 3 of.

No. 16, in page 13, line 24, at end insert—

'(6) Nothing in the repeal by this Act of paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 shall prevent the creation of a rentcharge under that paragraph in a case where written notice has been duly given to the reversioner by the claimant under that paragraph before the coming into force of the repeal; and paragraph 8 shall, notwithstanding the repeal, continue to have effect, subject to the provisions of this Act, in relation to rentcharges created under it.'—[Mr. Marks.]