HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc272-3
2. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will seek to amend the Housing Act 1980 to specify the maximum length of time which can elapse between an application being made by a tenant to purchase a council house and the sale of that council house being completed.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. John Stanley)

This is a possibility that we considered, but we decided that it would not be in the tenants' best interests, because of the likelihood that a specified maximum period would be treated by some authorities as the norm. We felt it preferable to rest ultimately on the Secretary of State's powers to intervene if he feels that tenants have or may have difficulty in exercising their right to buy effectively and expeditiously.

Mr. Knox

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is considerable concern about the length of time some councils are taking to effect those council house sales? Is he sure that his powers are being used with sufficient vigour?

Mr. Stanley

I assure my hon. Friend that we share his concern about the rate of progress of certain authorities. I am glad to repeat what I said last Saturday to those authorities which are delaying and spinning out the sale of council houses. I said that if they will not sell, we will and that we would start the process soon.

Mr. Heddle

Will my hon. Friend explain to the House and to the nation the position of tenants who wish to buy who have served their RTB 1 forms on their local authority, but have not received an acknowledgement since they served their notices? Will my hon. Friend explain how their position can be protected, bearing in mind that up to 3 April they can buy at the August 1980 valuation?

Mr. Stanley

I assure my hon. Friend that as long as a tenant has submitted a valid right-to-buy application form, and provided he submits it by 3 April, under the present legislation he will automatically qualify for an August 1980 valuation.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Is the Minister aware that tenants of some houses owned by the Department of the Environment have been refused permission to buy?

Mr. Stanley

As the hon. Member will be aware, various properties were excluded from the provisions of the right-to-buy legislation. Those properties are owned by Government Departments or county councils and the occupation of the properties is directly related to the job which a person is doing.