HC Deb 02 March 1981 vol 1000 cc1-3
1. Mr Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied with the progress made so far with the sale of council houses to sitting tenants in Wales.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

We are not monitoring individual right to buy applications, but my impression is that good progress is being made in the majority of cases.

Mr. Knox

Does my hon. Friend welcome the decision of the Labour Party national executive last week to overturn the decision by the Labour Party conference at Blackpool concerning the repurchase of council houses? Does he not think that the original decision at Blackpool was foolish and unfair?

Mr. Roberts

I saw the report, and I welcome the news that the NEC has overturned the decision taken at last year's Labour Party conference, which was wholly against the interests of council tenants who had bought their homes. The NEC described that decision as punitive. It would be helpful if the Opposition would declare their position and promise that they will not interfere with tenants who have bought their homes and who, in time, will wish to resell on the open market.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Is it not time that the Government gave priority to building houses rather than selling them, because my area is now approaching a chronic housing shortage? Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that thousands of building workers are now on the dole while the materials are home produced and available? Will he bear in mind that the Government, in their short period of office, have put over 1 million people out of work? Is it not time now to concentrate on putting a few of those people back to work?

Mr. Roberts

The answer to the housing problem is not"build, build, build," because we have sufficient housing stock. We need to make better use of that housing stock. That is precisely the aim of the Government's policies.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

What is the Minister's estimate of the number of persons in Wales who will be on local authority waiting lists at the end of his period as Minister, as a result of his policy of selling council houses? Will he explain why his Department is not monitoring that aspect of his policy, as it is not monitoring so many other aspects of his Department's social policy?

Mr. Roberts

The hon. Gentleman knows only too well that there is no such thing as a standard waiting list. Therefore, the waiting lists are not a true guide to the real need for housing in Wales.

Mr. Best

Is my hon. Friend aware that much public sector housing in Wales is in urgent need of repair? Does he not agree that one of the ways in which local authorities can fund the necessary repairs is by ensuring that as many council houses as possible are sold, because they will be able to use their capital receipts to that end? Will he publicise the desirability of people applying to buy their council houses before 3 April this year so that valuations for purchase purposes will be as at August of last year?

Mr. Roberts

My hon. Friend is right on all points. It is important that council tenants should exercise their right to buy and apply before 3 April because the valuation they are given will then be as at 8 August last year. The housing authorities can, of course, supplement their allocations by the net proceeds of council house sales.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does the Minister realise that this policy is irrelevant to most of the people of Wales, and is certainly irrelevant to Wales' basic housing problems? During the next few years local authorities, if the Government achieve their targets, will be selling more houses than they will be building. The Opposition believe that it is rubbish for any Minister to tell the House that there is already too much public sector housing in Wales. What foundation does the hon. Gentleman think he is laying for the next generation by blindly adding the prospect of homelessness to the prospect of joblessness?

Mr. Roberts

The sale of council houses does not decrease the housing stock by one house. The proceeds of council house sales can be well utilised by local authorities to improve the housing stock that they retain.

Back to