HC Deb 18 February 1970 vol 796 cc384-5
5. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department has undertaken a survey, similar to that undertaken by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and made an estimate of the number of council house tenants in Scotland who have means sufficient to buy their own houses with mortgage facilities.

Dr. Dickson Mahon

The study referred to was based on the Family Expenditure Survey, which covers the whole of Great Britain on a sample basis. It is not possible to make from the Scottish sample a reliable estimate for Scotland.

Mr. Campbell

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why, according to the Scottish Press, it was possible to make an estimate for England but not for Scotland, and thus add useful information, even if only approximate, to our general knowledge of the housing situation?

Dr. Mabon

This statistical example is very small. Any statistician would concur about that. But that does not mean that we have ignored it. In 1965 we carried out a survey—which the hon. Member may recall—which gave us some information about tenants' incomes. We hope to carry out a more substantial survey this year.

9. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local authorities in Scotland have engaged in the sale of local authority houses; what number has been sold and in what areas; and what prices have been obtained.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

No local authority sold any of its houses in 1969. In the previous two years, the burghs of Edinburgh, Findochty, Lockerbie, Lossiemouth, Stirling and Turriff and the counties of Banff, Dumfries, Inverness, Perth and Ross and Cromarty sold a total of 29 houses. I have no information about prices.

Mr. Hunter

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is gratifying to know that the practice is not widespread? Does not he agree that it is far better to put the emphasis on council houses for rent rather than for sale?

Dr. Mabon

I hope that my hon. Friend is aware that consent to sell houses has been given only where a need no longer exists for houses to let in the area concerned, or where all the foreseeable needs can be met by relets, or where a particular house was not part of the general pool of local authority houses—for example, the renovated houses on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Does the hon. Member agree that the reason for the small number of houses sold in Scotland is that Government approval is necessary, and that the Secretary of State has been refusing approval, and that local authorities know this? Will he consider—as he did in his first two years in office—regarding each proposal on its merits, especially where the sitting tenant is prepared to pay in cash, which can then be used for building new houses?

Dr. Mabon

Despite the fact that the hon. Gentleman's party operated no policy of principle such as that which I enunciated in my last answer, if the hon. Member will put down a Question I will give him an answer, and I think that he will be surprised at the small number of houses that the Conservatives allowed local authorities to dispose of.

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