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National Mobility Scheme

Volume 12: debated on Wednesday 11 November 1981

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8.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to make the national mobility scheme applicable in Scotland, as in England.

This scheme, which is meant to assist incomers applying for council houses, is a voluntary arrangement, and it is for Scottish local authorities to decide for themselves whether they wish to participate in it. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has so far declined to do so because Scottish authorities are already subject to statutory obligations in respect of residential qualifications, which do not bind local authorities in England and Wales.

I have in my constituency, as my hon. Friend knows, an excellent and expanding high technology firm which is in a position to recruit the skilled workers—in this case, skilled turners—for whom, unfortunately, work is not available in Scotland. The problem is the transfer of those good people, who have found work but not houses. Will the Minister ask Scottish local authorities to get together with English local authorities to organise this transfer?

I agree with my hon. Friend. Under the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980 Scottish local authorities afford to people coming for work from other parts of the United Kingdom the same advantages as my hon. Friend seeks for those going to his constituency. I understand that the Association of Metropolitan Authorities is likely to seek to persuade the convention to change its attitude. In my view it would be in the interests of all concerned if that were to happen, but I emphasise that it is for the convention to decide whether to make such a change.

Will the Minister give serious consideration to another aspect of the problem—not the question of the unemployed cycling from Glasgow to North Devon, but the distress and difficulties caused when families who live in council houses cannot move near to an elderly relative, or vice versa? Will he consider taking action through either legislation or discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities?

If the hon. Gentleman had read the Tenants' Rights Etc. (Scotland) Act before he voted against it, he would have seen that one of its provisions was to require local authorities to pay attention to just those considerations.