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Council House Sales

Volume 31: debated on Wednesday 10 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the number of families who have become house owners under the right-to-buy legislation.


asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the progress made so far with the sale of council houses to sitting tenants.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is generally satisfied with progress. Between April 1979 and the end of June 1982 an estimated 370,000 public sector dwellings were sold in Great Britain, some 182,000 of which were sold under the right-to-buy provisions. There remain a minority of councils where progress with the right to buy gives cause for concern.

Is my hon. Friend aware what good news the figure of 370,000 is? Will he perhaps consider setting a target of half a million sales within the lifetime of this Parliament? To achieve that end, will he ensure that the laggard authorities are forced to get on with such sales, which are the right of British citizens?

My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction keeps a close watch on those authorities about which my Department receives complaints and will continue to do so.

The Government hope that the half million target will be achieved. The most welcome drop in mortgage rates, referred to a few minutes ago, will give a fresh impetus to the sale of council houses.

How many local authorities are still dragging their feet over the sale of council houses? Are they all Labour-controlled?

I have in front of me a rather long list of local authorities about which my Department has received complaints. The vast majority of them are under Labour control. My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction has regular correspondence and meetings with them to bring home to them the importance of making swift progress in giving people their statutory right.

In view of the Minister's claim to success in that regard, will he now extend the right to buy to tenants of privately owned houses?

That has already been dealt with at a previous Question Time. Those houses are already in private ownership and the Government's mandate extends only to those in public ownership.

Has the Minister instructed his Department, or asked housing authorities, to commission research into the social consequences for people who are frustrated because they live in deprived areas with difficult to let housing, with low incomes, and whose chances of transferring to decent houses have been reduced?

The social consequences speak for themselves. Three hundred and seventy thousand people have exercised their right. What more evidence does the hon. Gentleman need?