asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what response he has had from local authorities to his policy of encouraging low-cost home ownership outlined in his letter accompanying the housing investment programme allocations.
It is too early in the financial year to give a firm indication but the initial response from a number of authorities has been positive and constructive.
I am pleased to hear about the positive response that the Minister is receiving. Following his statement last week that local authorities can use a portion of capital receipts to supplement HIP allocations, does he not find it a curious anomaly that many Labour local authorities complain about their HIP allocations yet refuse to sell publicly-owned assets which would enable them to supplement those same allocations?
My hon. Friend is entirely right. It is open to local authorities—in accordance with the detailed description which I set out in the speech to the Institute of Housing, a copy of which is in the Library—to supplement their capital allocations by the process of realising capital assets.
Is the Minister aware that he has a policy for high-cost home ownership and not low-cost home ownership, and that his announcements on shared ownership and on homesteading are merely gimmicks and palliatives which he is introducing because he has no proper housing policy, and because his Government have stopped council building for the next two years?
It is not the view of the 70 or so authorities, and all the new towns which will be doing starter homes or building-for-sale schemes this year, or of the 100 or so housing associations which will be planning shared ownership schemes, that those efforts are palliatives or gimmicks.