11 MARCH 1966, Page 15

Morality Begins at Home

&a,—Mr. R. A. Cline, in his article in your issue of February 25 on the Government's White Paper on Leasehold Enfranchisement. states: 'Never has any statute taken away the owner's freehold. . . . This vast invasion of the sanctity of property ought to shock a democracy which intends to be property' owning.' The proposals in the White Paper which generate this comment and the philosophy on which they proceed may be novel to English property law- yers but they are not novel to the legislature. More than a decade ago, Parliament, with a Tory adminis- tration in office, passed a very similar measure based on the same concept but restricted in its scope to Scotland and known as the Long Leases (Scotland) Act 1954. I hold no brief for the Labour administra- tion but if Mr. Cline is seeking to make political capital, as he seems to be, out of the recent English proposals, it is only fair to the present Government to point out that they will be enacting in England something -which, in principle, a Tory government has already enacted North of the Border.

[R. A. Cline writes : 'As I understand the Scottish statute, lessees were given an option to be granted a "feu right" in substitution for their long leases. But the proprietor of the land remained the proprietor; it is true that the lessees' rights were thus increased at the expense of the landlord and without his con- sent. But this was equally true under the English Rent Acts.'—Editor, SPECTATOR.]