HC Deb 26 July 1972 vol 841 cc1793-4
3. Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will advise local authorities to use compulsory purchase powers when it appears that a large number of houses within their area, which have hitherto been let to tenants with low incomes, are being or are about to be converted to luxury accommodation.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Julian Amery)

No, Sir. This is a matter for the judgment of the local authorities.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is a dismally insensitive answer, which reflects the indifference of his Government to the suffering caused to individuals, families, and communities by the exploitation of properties for commercial greed? Will he not reconsider the matter and accept the recommendations even of the Conservative Kensington and Chelsea Council to give increased compulsory purchase powers where families are being harassed with a view to their eviction, because the provisions of the Act are not sufficiently effective to prevent harassment? Will he take greater powers to use compulsory purchase powers in those circumstances?

Mr. Amery

The hon. Gentleman will be well aware that we have taken increased powers to prosecute harassment and that tenants in regulated or controlled tenancies have security of tenure. I should have thought that that covers the point the hon. Gentleman is making.

6. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he takes into account in assessing requests by local authorities for his approval of compulsory purchase orders of land for public housing.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

Generally, the authority's need for more housing land, the suitability of the proposed site and any objections to the compulsory purchase order, but each case must be considered on its merits.

Mr. Tebbit

Has my right hon. Friend seen the report on the Sheffield Council waiting list commissioned by the Housing Research Foundation and carried out by the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham? Will he take this sort of survey into account as well, because that survey showed that some 42 per cent. of the people whose names appeared on the general waiting list could not be traced, and that well over half of the people on the waiting list wanted to own their homes, yet in Sheffield fewer and fewer houses are being built for ownership and more and more for municipal letting.

Mr. Page

I have said that one of the factors is an authority's need for more housing land, and proof of need would not be discharged merely by producing a housing waiting list. We should consider any other factors, such as those my hon. Friend mentioned, in seeing whether there was a need for housing.

Mr. Hardy

Is the Minister aware that many of the people in Sheffield wish to buy houses in my constituency but that unfortunately the rate of increase in house prices is such that many thousands of them are being bitterly disappointed?

Mr. Page

The Government's objective is to increase the supply of housing in order to push the prices down.