HC Deb 03 February 1970 vol 795 cc195-6
10. Mr. Eyre

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what progress he has made with his studies of proposals made to him regarding the introduction of legislation to allow local authorities to pay legal expenses to council tenants wishing to move into home ownership in the private sector.

Mr. Freeson

If a council tenant moves out into a house of his own the local authority have power to repay his removal expenses, but not his legal costs. After consultation with local authority and other interests, I am still not convinced it is desirable to amend the law in this respect.

Mr. Eyre

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is a disappointing reply? Would it not be wise to do everything possible to encourage the better-off council tenant to move on to home ownership and so make his house available to those in greater need?

Mr. Freeson

The answer to the main part of the question is that it is desirable to encourage anyone who can do so to purchase his own house; I think that this Government have taken a number of steps in that direction. On the main burden of the question, the point at this stage is to try to persuade local authorities to use what powers they already have. We have been in discussion with the local authority associations, which have undertaken to remind their member authorities of their existing powers, which are not fully used.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is it not the case that the loss to the Treasury per house-owner is £47 10s. on average, whereas the loss per council house, on the subsidy, is about £30, and that, therefore, if council house tenants transferred in any great and sudden degree to house purchase, the loss to the Inland Revenue would be disastrous?

Mr. Freeson

I take my hon. Friend's point, but it is as well to remember that, as more house building proceeds, the average subsidy per council house tenant from the Exchequer on his property will rise greatly to come into line with the present degree of subsidy to owner-occupiers.