HC Deb 06 July 1983 vol 45 cc269-70
7. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce measures to assist council tenants and families on council house waiting lists to buy houses in the private sector.

Mr. Gow

Such measures have been introduced already. Do-it-yourself shared ownership, which was launched on 24 January this year, enables council tenants and families on council house waiting lists, as well as other public sector tenants and first-time buyers, to select properties in the private sector for purchase on shared ownership terms within certain price limits. The Government also encourage a whole range of other low-cost home ownership initiatives, including shared ownership, homesteading, improvement for sale, building for sale and the home loan scheme.

Mr. Beith

Does the Minister recognise that the objective of wider home ownership cannot be pursued much further through the sale of council houses because those on the waiting lists will not find houses to rent and some council tenants do not want to buy the houses in which they are living? In many areas it will not be possible to pursue the policy much further without having an inadequate supply of housing for rent to meet local needs. Does he accept that the measures to which the main question refers need to be extended, as they will be cost-effective and potentially of great help to the private building industry?

Mr. Gow

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman about the prospects for the sale of council houses. All the evidence suggests that the demand from tenants to buy their council houses is as strong as ever. I remind the hon. Gentleman that 550,000 such tenants bought council houses during the previous Parliament. I studied the Liberal party's manifesto and noted the suggestions that it put forward. As usual, it was promising to spend money without saying from where the money would come. That is a luxury in which any party can indulge when it has no hope of securing office.

Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

Will the Minister take steps to discourage council tenants or anyone else from buying the dangerous rubbish that is produced by Barratts?

Mr. Gow

We have already said that tenants who live in properties which are possibly in a defective condition should take great care when buying their council houses.

Mr. Heddle

Does my hon. Friend agree that the measures that he introduced yesterday will go a long way to meet the wishes of the majority who want to aspire to home ownership? Is it not curious that the Liberal party should join the Labour party in voting against the most significant measure that will increase home ownership throughout the nation?

Mr. Gow

Yes, my hon. Friend is right. However, there is a prospect that the Liberal party is redeeming itself for last evening. Some members of the alliance voted in favour of the Second Reading of the Housing and Building Control Bill.


Mr. Beith

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister for Housing and Construction, perhaps unwilling to shake off his earlier supergrass role, commended members of the Liberal party and the Social Democratic party for voting for the Second Reading of the Housing and Building Control Bill in a Division yesterday. The Division list has not yet been printed in Hansard, hut I have it in my hands as marked by the Clerks in the Lobbies. I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity that I am sure you, Mr. Speaker, will afford him to accept that his claim is entirely untrue.

Mr. Speaker

That is more a point for the Minister than for me.

Mr. Gow

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I paid a tribute to him which he did not deserve. According to the unpublished figures, about half the alliance voted against the Bill and the other half abstained.

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