HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc276-7
7. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the latest available sales figures under the right-to-buy provisions of the Housing Act 1980 in Tonbridge and Mailing and South Oxfordshire district council aeas; and what are the overall figures for England.

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

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction gave him on 27 February.

Mr. Alton

The House will be interested to hear the Minister's reasons for the poor performance of both those local authorities, which have sold a derisory number of council houses. Instead of drawing up hit lists of local authorities which he does not like, would it not be far better to look a bit closer to home?

Mr. Finsberg

I do not understand why the hon. Gentleman should think it is bad when Tonbridge and Mailing has sold 190 houses, all under the previous voluntary effort, and when all 37 applications made in the first quarter of the right-to-buy period have had offer notices. That compares favourably with Liverpool which received 1,601 applications but has made only 221 offers—15 per cent., compared with Tonbridge and Malling's 100 per cent. Incidentally, I am glad to note the hon. Gentleman's interest, since he voted against the right to buy on Third Reading of the Housing Bill.

Mr. Proctor

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Basildon new town more than 2,000 people have bought their homes from the development corporation, which I believe is the highest number of all the new towns in the United Kingdom? Is he also aware that 150 of my constituents living in Billericay and Wickford, who have the misfortune of living in homes owned by the London borough of Waltham Forest, are being frustrated in their desire to take advantage of the right to buy because the council has said that it will process only a handful of applications each month? At the rate it is going, it will take 25 years to process all the applications. Does that not mean that the Secretary of State should use his powers under the Housing Act to ensure that local authorities such as Waltham Forest sell as quickly as possible? [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] It is good, though.

Mr. Finsberg

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that point. It is open to all tenants whose applications are being frustrated to register in the elections in May their dislike of what Labour authorities are doing.