HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 cc287-8
23. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what communications there have been between his Department and Wolverhampton borough council on the sale of council houses.

Mr. Stanley

Correspondence has taken place between the Department and the council since February. The Department's most recent letter of 27 March indicates that Ministers regard the progress being made by Wolverhampton with referring valuations to the district valuer as unacceptable.

Mrs. Short

Is the Minister aware of the enormous amount of additional work that the sale of council houses causes to local authorities in examining applications and valuing the properties? What work does he suggest that they put to one side to do that? Alternatively, if they have to put the valuations out, how will they pay for them?

Mr. Stanley

If the initial valuations are put out to the district valuer, there is no cost to the authority. I am sure that the hon. Lady will also be aware of the great demand in Wolverhampton from council tenants who wish to buy their own homes. I draw her attention to the fact that the latest letter we have received from Wolverhampton says that, in the view of the council, it will take approximately 60 to 90 weeks—that is nearly two years—even to refer the dwellings concerned to the district valuer for valuation, let alone to complete the sales. I make it clear to Wolverhampton and any other similar-minded local authorities that if they wish to spin out right-to-buy sales until the end of this Parliament the Government are working to a very different timetable.

Mr. Budgen

Will my hon. Friend confirm that over 2,000 applicants now wish to buy their homes in Wolverhampton and that they are experiencing delays and evasions by the council, which show that it wishes to flout the law? Is it not time for the Secretary of State to intervene?

Mr. Stanley

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have carefully noted that point.

Mr. Winnick

When will the Government show as much enthusiasm for allowing desperately needed council accommodation to be built as they are showing for selling existing dwellings?

Mr. Stanley

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will show similar enthusiasm for local authorities selling council houses, so that they can increase their capital receipts to add to the money available for housing investment.