HC Deb 30 July 1980 vol 989 cc1498-9
8. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in theOfficial Reporthis correspondence with those London boroughs which have yet to complete the takeover of housing stock from the Greater London Council.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg)

I have today placed copies of the consultation letter sent to local authorities, and other relevant correspondence, in the Library of the House.

Mr. Price

Why did the Minister, earlier this month, send bullying letters to the eight London boroughs, giving them wholly inadequate time to respond, when his own powers were in doubt? Although no date has been set, the eight London boroughs have decided to appeal. Will the Minister delay the enforced handover of dilapidated housing, which in many cases has been stripped of decent assets, until the courts have disposed of the matter, instead of continuing to ride roughshod over the courts?

Mr. Finsberg

The Government, unlike their predecessors, do not try to ride roughshod over the courts. The situation is perfectly clear. As was said in the letter, consultation was without prejudice to the outcome of proceedings brought by certain local authorities.

Mr. Squire

Will my hon. Friend reconfirm that the sooner Greater London is treated in the same way as the rest of the country, and has one housing authority and one level of responsibility instead of two, the better it will be for all concerned? Many of us would consider that to be a substantial improvement.

Mr. Finsberg

I note what my hon. Friend has said. I think he will understand that if I expressed any view on the merits of the case I should be prejudging my right hon. Friend's decision, which he must take in a quasi-judicial capacity.

Mr. Tilley

Does the hon. Member intend, after the court case is settled, to consult the tenants direct? People in my constituency bitterly oppose the prospect of the handover, not for any love of their Tory GLC landlords, but because the financial provisions that are on offer from the GLC mean that the boroughs will not have the necessary money to put right the rundown state of those estates after three years of Tory rule.

Mr. Finsberg

Of course we shall take account of any views that tenants care to express. It is interesting to recall that about two years ago the London borough of Camden asked its GLC tenants what they wanted. When they said that they wanted to be transferred to Camden, the council appeared to drop the results of that questionnaire.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

Will my hon. Friend encourage the London boroughs and the GLC, by correspondence or any other means, to solve their own housing problems in their own areas and not to purchase land for housing in rural areas?

Mr. Finsberg

As my hon. Friend knows, the purchase of land in areas outside London requires permission from the Secretary of State and is, in any case, contained in the allocation of money under the annual programmes. The wholesale grabbing of land that went on under the last Administration will not find favour with this one.