HC Deb 08 July 1981 vol 8 cc395-7
10. Dr. Mawhinney

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many applications to buy council and new town houses have been received since the Housing Act came into force up to the most recent convenient date; and how many of these applications have resulted in sales.

Mr. Stanley

In the first six-month period after the Housing Act came into force, the number of right-to-buy claims received by local authorities and new towns in England was approximately 263,000. Of those some 2,200 sales had been completed by 31 March. In addition to the sales being carried out under the right-to-buy procedures, a number of authorities are processing additional sales to sitting tenants under the voluntary arrangements permitted by the general consents for the disposal of local authority dwellings.

Dr. Mawhinney

Does my hon. Friend agree that when all the rhetoric has died down and all the academic analyses have been written the figures that he has announced are the true measure of the success of our policies?

Mr. Stanley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he will be aware, the fact that more than 250,000 council tenants have applied to buy their homes, coming on top of about 140,000 completed sales since the Government came into office, totally vindicates our policies.

Mr. Flannery

Does the Minister realise that selling the much-needed stock of houses is legalised robbery of taxpayers' money? Is he aware that in my city the waiting list is as large as the number of council houses being built in a year under this Government? Does he not realise that by selling those houses cheaply he is taking what he calls taxpayers' money? He is also selling the best houses. That leaves the remainder for those living in high rise flats, for example, who want to move out of them. The housing that is being sold should be available to those tenants. What will the Minister do to stop the robbery that is going on in the name of his Government?

Mr. Stanley

The so-called robbery to which the hon. Gentleman refers was endorsed by the British electorate at the last election.

Mr. Dobson

Where are the tax cuts?

Mr. Stanley

I am certain that the 3,700 council tenants seeking to exercise their right to buy in Sheffield completely support the policy. I look forward to the action of the Sheffield city council in implementing the timetable that it has agreed to set for implementing the right to buy.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Is my hon. Friend aware that almost a year after the Housing Act came into force not a single offer notice has been sent out to over 1,000 families who have applied for the right to buy in the borough of Watford? Will he take it from me that although the letter that he has recently sent to the chief executive of Watford borough council has been of encouragement to my constituents, they want to hear his assurance that if he is not satisfied with the reply received he will not hesitate to use his powers under the Act to intervene on their behalf?

Mr. Stanley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his robust defence of the interests of his constituents. As a result of his representations, which have drawn my attention to the serious delays in Watford, the Department has now formally written to the local authority about the inadequacy of its present progress.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

Will the Minister confirm that, because of the Housing Act, local authorities will on average have to sell 12 council houses to obtain the capital receipts to build one new council house? What advice can the Minister offer to the 1¼ million people on the waiting lists who see councils selling houses and the Government stopping council house building?

Mr. Stanley

I am grateful to the hon. Lady because she has confirmed that, for example, if the city of Manchester, which has 6,000 right-to-buy applications, had made greater progress earlier with the right to buy it would be in a position to build 500 more council houses.

Mr. William Hamilton

What a fool.