HC Deb 11 March 1980 vol 980 cc1140-2
14. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will bring forward proposals for improving the opportunities of Service men to purchase their own homes ready for retirement.

Mr. Hayhoe

As I indicated in a written answer on 7 November 1979, we intend to introduce a scheme to sell surplus married quarters to Service men on preferential terms broadly in line with those proposed for council tenants in the Housing Bill. We are also looking at other ways of helping Service men to buy their own homes, it is too soon yet to give details.

Mr. Lewis

I am grateful for that answer. However, is my hon. Friend aware that a Service man will be able to gain a house on retirement more easily if the Treasury will allow him to buy and let his house without having to pay capital gains tax on sale? Will he emphasise that in discussions with the Treasury?

Mr. Hayhoe

I shall certainly consider that suggestion.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Does the Minister accept that some Service men will be unable to buy their own homes? Is it not a scandalous waste of public money that the Ministry of Defence is forced to obtain court orders to evict ex-Service men from married quarters before local authorities will consider rehousing them?

Mr. Hayhoe

Many local authorities will rehouse only after eviction has taken place. However, such actions normally cause little, if any, hardship to the individuals concerned. I recognise that that may not always apply. However, on the whole, I believe that to be true.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Will my hon. Friend accept that the arrangements between the Ministry of Defence and local authorities to provide housing for those leaving Army quarters have often worked well in my constituency?

Will he accept that it is as important to help those in the Services to buy their homes as it is to help council tenants and others?

Mr. Hayhoe

We are considering an assisted house purchase scheme that will help Service men to buy their homes. I recognise the strength of feeling on this issue among Service personnel.

Mr. Concannon

Is the Minister aware that when that circular was sent out it encouraged local authorities, the majority of which wish to help? Will the Minister accept that some people may have spent 22 or 23 years in the Armed Forces, yet when they come out the authorities are not prepared to find them houses? Does the Minister further accept that in these modern times we should be able to find accommodation for those who have spent a considerable time in the Services?

Mr. Hayhoe

The responsibility for allocating council accommodation rests with the local authorities. I agree that those who have served their country well deserve to be treated properly by local authorities when they resign.