§ 12. Mr. Michael Forsyth
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received returns from Stirling district council relating to its progress with council house sales.
§ Mr. Ancram
Yes. The returns suggest that on 30 June there were about 60 cases in which Stirling district council had failed to meet its statutory duty to issue an offer to sell within two months of receiving an application; and that the council takes on average over 20 months to process sales from application to completion. These figures are clearly unacceptable and my Department wrote to the council on 24 October drawing its attention to the serious consequences of its failure to meet the requirements of the Tenants' Rights Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980, and asking for urgent information on the steps which it proposes taking to process sales more speedily.
§ Mr. Forsyth
Will my hon. Friend confirm that the returns submitted were inaccurate? In the light of the clear evidence that Stirling is failing to meet its statutory obligations, will he now take action against the council, instead of just sending it letters, so that, particularly the elderly and others who are vulnerable and who are being victimised for ideological reasons, can realise their statutory rights to home ownership?
§ Mr. Ancram
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those remarks. The returns from Stirling were inaccurate in that it was reporting sales as completed as soon as the contract had been concluded. The statistics have now been rectified and they are as I pointed them out in my original answer. I take the matter seriously and I am waiting to hear from Stirling district council about what action it proposes to rectify the situation.