HC Deb 17 May 1978 vol 950 cc451-3
9. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the rate of home ownership in Scotland; and what is the rate of home ownership in all other countries in Western Europe.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Hugh D. Brown)

I am arranging for the latest figures available for other European countries to be published in the Official Report. Owner-occupied housing in Scotland has been rising in recent years, from 31.7 per cent. in 1972 to 34 per cent. last year.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that Scotland has the lowest rate of owner-occupation and home ownership in Western Europe and that the electors of Hamilton will realise that the Conservative Party is the only party which can effectively redress the balance?

Mr. Brown

I do not think that any other hon. Member believes that. It does not require any comment from me.

Mr. Henderson

Has the hon. Member's attention been drawn to the series of articles in The Scotsman this week about foreign purchases of Scottish land? Does he not feel that these call for some investigation? Further, does he think that this will help home ownership in Scotland in any way?

Mr. Brown

If the hon. Member had been attending to his duties, he could have put down a Question on that subject. It is not a matter with which I am dealing at the moment.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Will my hon. Friend tell us what is so wonderful about home ownership?

Mr. Brown

I need more time to think about that one. However, the Green Paper highlighted the difficulty of trying to assess who gets the better bargain—the council tenant or the owner-occupier who gets tax relief.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Give them the choice.

Mr. Brown

They have the choice. What we made abundantly clear is that both sides are assisted substantially by the Government.

Mr. Younger

Is the Minister aware that every survey that has been taken by independent outside bodies and by national newspapers has shown that the majority of young Scots people would like to own their homes? Why does the Labour Party consistently stand out against that aim?

Mr. Brown

With great respect to the hon. Member, some of these surveys have not been analysed. Nor have they even been conducted in depth. I received 406 applications to sell council houses last year, from a variety of local authorities. I approved 350 applications. The actual number sold was 59. There is no great demand from council tenants to buy their houses.

Following is the information:

Per cent.
Ireland 68 (1971)
Luxembourg 56 (1970)
Italy 52 (1971)
Denmark 48 (1970)
France 46 (1975)
West Germany 36 (1972)
Belgium 53 (1970)