HC Deb 04 March 1981 vol 1000 cc257-8
1. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities are now operating low-cost home ownership schemes.

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

Inquiries indicate that some 165 local authorities currently have low-cost home ownership schemes.

Mr. Blackburn

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that answer. However, will he give wide publicity to the schemes, particularly in view of reports in the press about Lambeth council and the fact that there are 2,000 applications in Wolverhampton council that have not yet received attention from that authority?

Mr. Stanley

I assure my hon. Friend that we are giving extensive publicity to low-cost homeownership opportunities. We are making arrangements to publish written infomation about it and we are also making a film about the low-cost opportunities available to all local authorities.

I read with great concern reports in the press today about industrial action to impound right-to-buy claim forms, alleged to have been carried out by NALGO officials in Lambeth. It has not been possible this morning to establish the precise facts with the council, but if the reports are correct that action would represent a most serious abuse. The Government expect Lambeth council to take the necessary steps to recover possession of the right-to-buy documents concerned and to fulfil its obligations to process without delay the right-to-buy applications that it has received.

Mr. Alton

Is the Minister not ashamed of the fact that in a written reply two days ago he had to admit that in his constituency and in that represented by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State not one house had been sold by the end of December under the new right-to-buy proposals?

Mr. Stanley

The hon. Member will be aware that the right-to-buy took effect only on 3 October. I assure him that the record of district councils such as South Oxfordshire and Tonbridge and Mailing in giving council tenants the right to buy is better than that of most Labour, and some Liberal, authorities.

Mr. William Shelton

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people in Lambeth wish to buy their council homes and that 300 to 400 letters are being held up? Does he agree that that is scandalous, and that something must be done as soon as possible?

Mr. Stanley

I agree with my hon. Friend. As he will be aware, there are later questions on the Order Paper about the implementation of the right to buy. I shall come to those questions and refer to Lambeth again shortly.