HC Deb 24 March 1982 vol 20 cc920-2
8. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the progress being made with the sale of council houses to sitting tenants in Scotland.

Mr. Rifkind

Yes, Sir. Taking into account the Scottish Special Housing Association and our new towns, over 50, 000 public sector tenants have applied to buy, with completed sales totalling almost 18, 000.

Mr. Knox

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that all local authorities are pulling their weight in the sale of council houses? If not, will he list those that are not?

Mr. Rifkind

Until recently it seemed that Glasgow district council was delaying the completion of the sales of houses, but I am happy to say that it appears that by the end of this month, which is the end of the financial year, about 200 sales will have been completed. Glasgow district council has agreed with the Scottish Office that next year there will be completed sales of about 2, 500 houses.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

Will the Minister answer the question that he was asked? How many council houses have been sold? Has there not been a poor take-up? Does this not expose the fact that the Tory Government have no housing policy in Scotland?

Mr. Rifkind

On the contrary, if one looks specifically at the question of local authority council houses, one sees that there have been 32, 000 applications and over 10, 000 sales completed. Wherever local authorities bring to the attention of their tenants the opportunities available under the Tenants' Rights, Etc., (Scotland) Act 1980, sales in those localities are significantly greater.

Mr. McQuarrie

It is nonsense for the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) to suggest that the Government have no housing policy, especially when my right hon. Friend—

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman's preamble is over. He should now come to the question.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am grateful that you allowed my preamble, Mr. Speaker. Will my hon. Friend confirm that a large number of council house tenants wish to purchase their houses but are deliberately prevented form doing so because of stories from local authority offices that there are inadequate numbers of staff to complete the purchases?

Mr. Rifkind

It has been suggested by one or two local authorities, notably Aberdeen district council, that they are unable to complete conveyancing of some houses until 1986–87. That is an absurd proposition, and it has not been found to be the experience of almost any other council in Scotland. I have no doubt that a council that sought to delay the conveying of house sales would find that its own opportunities to continue with its capital programme were significantly affected because of the net allocation system and that, in addition, it would be paying unnecessary loan charges when it could finance house purchases from the receipts of housing stock.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Will the Minister confirm that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) is right in saying that there has been a low take-up of local authority housing? Is he aware that 10, 000 sales out of a stock of just under 1 million represents a very low take-up? Will the hon. Gentleman write to the North-East Fife district council, an area where sales have been higher, and ask for a report on public complaints that only the best houses are being sold and that this is causing the North-East Fife district council serious housing problems?

Mr. Rifkind

If the hon. Gentleman had listened carefully, he would have heard me say that there had been 10, 000 completed sales and over 31, 000 applications for local authority houses, three times the figure that the hon. Gentleman suggested. The Opposition have to make up their minds. On the one hand they say that council houses are being sold all over the place to the detriment of local authority housing policies, and on the other they claim that none are being sold.

Mr. Henderson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr, Ewing) referred to a district council in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am afraid that I do not know all the different district councils in Scotland—not as well as I ought to.

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