HC Deb 28 November 1984 vol 68 cc923-4
14. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council houses have been sold in England since May 1979.

Sir George Young

From April 1979 to September 1984 about 620,000 dwellings were sold by local authorities and new towns in England.

Mr. Knox

Can my hon. Friend say what proportion of the total stock of council houses that figure represents?

Sir George Young

Not without notice, is the short answer.

Mr. Flannery

How many starts are there on the stocks to replace houses so that the demands of the waiting lists can be met? Can the Minister tell us just how many people are now on the waiting lists and how many houses are there to accommodate them?

Sir George Young

The hon. Gentleman seems to assume that the houses are not there once they have been sold. The houses remain part of the housing stock, and real people continue to live in them. The hon. Gentleman asked about the waiting lists. If his thesis is right, that the sale of council houses denies people on waiting lists the opportunity to move up, he would expect there to be fewer re-lets each year. I have the figures in front of me. In 1979, 194,000 people occupied local authority re-lets. In 1982, that figure had gone up to 223,000.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

While I welcome the good figures for the sale of council house dwellings to date, may I ask my hon. Friend to chase up Labour-controlled councils such as Leicester to enable more people to buy their own houses and flats?

Sir George Young

There are still a number of authorities whose performance under the right to buy is unsatisfactory. My Department pursues progress with them so that all tenants can exercise their right to buy without delay or difficulty. Two thirds of the authorities that are monitored are Labour-controlled.

Mr. John Fraser

Why have not the capital receipts from the sale of over 600,000 council homes been recycled into rebuilding? Is not the truth that the Treasury has virtually stolen £3 billion to £4 billion of capital receipts —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, the Treasury has stolen£3 billion to £4 billion of capital receipts from the sale of council houses, which could be used to build over 100,000 new houses to let, for major capitalised repairs on council estates, and for major improvements and repairs to privately owned houses. Is not the truth that the money is being taken away by the Treasury and that the people have been deceived about what was to happen with the proceeds from the right to buy?

Sir George Young

I am not sure how the Treasury could have stolen, if that is the right word, £3 billion or£4 billion, as total receipts from the sale of council houses have been only £2 billion. That £2 billion has been used by local authorities to supplement their housing investment programmes. It has been ploughed back into housing.

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