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Council House Sales

Volume 981: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent discussions he has had with the outer London boroughs on questions arising from the policy of selling council homes to sitting tenants.

I have not had any recent general discussions with councillors of outer London boroughs on sales of council houses.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Where there are unnecessary bureacratic delays, when a preliminary valuation has been agreed or when remedial works are being carried out to improve a property prior to purchase, will the Minister see whether his Department can assist to get through those unnecessary delays?

We have recently made an amendment to the general consent under which council tenants in the process of buying will not be penalised in terms of the increased valuation of their property if there are delays for administrative reasons or because of problems with improvements.

Will the Minister admit to the House that the sale of council houses is bound to reduce substantially the estimated 120,000 re-lets upon which the housing policy review was based in assessing the need for council houses? Will he admit that the assessed need for council houses, after allowing for re-lets, was over 100,000 and that his policy will produce 35,000? Will he acknowledge that he has been refusing to answer questions that I have tabled about the evidence and that his policy is based on uninformed—

Order. That question is almost as long as the hon. Gentleman's point of order yesterday.

As the hon. Member knows, the right to buy has been put to the electorate and to the House. Both have been found by a large majority to be in favour of it.

When the legislation enabling council house tenants to escape from the bondage of those local authorities that refuse to sell council houses becomes law, will my hon. Friend undertake a massive publicity campaign with advertisements so that every local authority and every tenant is aware of the enfranchisement that this Government will have effected?

I can assure my hon. Friend that we intend to make known to all council tenants that the right to buy has been provided by this Government.

Does the Minister realise that this policy, combined with the failure to build council houses has led to a situation in West London where people have no hope of transferring from a GLC tenancy to another tenancy in the near future?

I am glad to say that this is not the view of Conservative-controlled boroughs in London, all of which are selling at 50 per cent. discounts.