HRH Prince Charles delivered the Queen's Speech setting out the Government's agenda for the next Parliamentary session.
As Father of the House, I have the honour of speaking first following the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and of the SNP.
I shared concern about the lack of progress in tackling severe issues facing park home residents and leaseholders across the country.
I encourage the Government to do what is necessary. There are simple solutions that will have dramatic effects.
I ask the Government to ensure that the legislative process is accelerated to ensure that we do not leave the 4.6 million leaseholders nationwide hanging when legislation is left too late to progress.
I have spent over 15 years trying to get justice for leaseholders. We have seen good progress over recent years but it is still not good enough.
An exert of what I said and a video of the speech is below:
Why should park home residents have to lose a significant part of their home’s value when they sell it? Those two things can be changed quite simply, the second probably through a handout Bill. There are plenty of MPs who could take that forward if their number came up in the ballot— my number has not come up in the ballot in 46 years —but the Government can make the RPI/CPI change quite easily.
From the notes to the Queen’s Speech—I thank the Government for giving us copious notes on the proposals—we learn that the numbers of social tenants, private tenants and leaseholders are each about 4 million to 4.6 million.
The fastest-growing type of home occupation is leasehold. We will not get decent information from the last census, because the only choices that people could put down were whether they owned their home or were a tenant. When I asked what a leaseholder should say, I was not given a clear answer. People think they own their home and might say, “I own it”, but they are wrong. If they put down “tenant”, they might think, “I’m not, actually. I’m a leaseholder.” Why could the people who compiled that census question not wake up to the fact that we are talking about 4.6 million households? Actually, it is probably 6 million, to be complete, but let us take it as 4.6 million. Why did the Office for National Statistics and what is now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities agree a question that does not allow accurate answers and totals to be given?
On leasehold, over the years, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has commissioned the Law Commission to write reports on what would make life easier, fairer and cheaper. We have not had legislation on that put forward. There are words about how something will happen in this Parliament, and we know that uncontroversial legislation often comes in what is expected to be the last year of a Parliament, but that legislation can often be lost if the election comes early. Let us assume that the election comes in May 2024. Will those 4.6 million leaseholders be left hanging if legislation, having been proposed, does not get through both Houses of Parliament?
I ask the Government to try to get that legislation ready for the next Session, and to get it through Parliament early as a priority. I suspect that it could start in the House of Lords and come through to the House of Commons quickly, rather than us having the controversial stuff start here.
I have spent about 15 years—I am following others who have been doing it for longer—trying to get justice for leaseholders. The crooks, exploiters and heartless people in the field—the sort of people on whom one could justifiably use parliamentary privilege—need to be held back, and the ordinary people need to be brought forward.
In debates on the Building Safety Act 2022, we heard how many people were stuck; the Government eventually came round to making changes, which are welcome. On fire safety defects, we know that we have to find, fix and fund the problems, and then get the money back from those who have not yet coughed up.