asked the Secretary of State for Social Services under what authority the sale of nurses' accommodation has been carried out in the last two years; what is the current status of the relevant circular which was issued and then withdrawn in 1986; if he will publish the findings of the review then initiated; and what general objectives and precise targets he now has for the sale of nurses' accommodation in the next year.
Although the National Health Service Acts do not include a specific power to dispose of surplus land and property, Treasury counsel has advised that there is an inherent power. Circular HC(86)8 issued in 1986 advises authorities on the implementation of a previous circular, making it clear that they should not implement any part of their plans for rationalising property holdings where this involved giving staff notice to quit. Neither circular has been withdrawn. We expect shortly to consult on the outcome of the review of the conditions on which staff occupy residential accommodation initiated last year. Our general objectives for the next year are that authorities should continue to dispose of any properties they judge to be surplus to local requirements, wherever practicable by selling them to the current occupants at the generous discounts available; ensure that the remaining stock is fully utilised; and bring up to a reasonable standard any of the remaining properties which are in a poor state of repair and decoration. We have not set any precise targets within these general objectives.