HC Deb 04 December 1985 vol 88 c296
12. Mr. Heddle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to encourage co-operative housing associations and trusts in the regeneration of housing estates.

Sir George Young

Tenant management co-operatives, housing associations and trusts have an important potential for the regeneration of rundown council estates, providing better management and giving tenants a bigger say in how their estates are run. The forthcoming housing and planning Bill will enable local authorities to delegate their housing management functions to a range of other bodies. The Department's urban housing renewal unit is encouraging local authorities to consider the scope for innovative solutions of this kind. The unit is also examining the best way to provide start-up and training resources for new tenant co-operatives.

Mr. Heddle

Does my hon. Friend agree that the recent decision democratically reached by Thamesmead tenants shows that local authority tenants would rather be masters of their own destiny than servants of the GLC? Does he further agree that the forthcoming Building Societies Bill will enable responsible and prudent private sector capital to be made available through the building society movement, pension funds and other institutions to liberalise the situation and to ensure that estates are given a breath of fresh air and a new personality?

Sir George Young

I applaud the decision of Thamesmead residents in October to reject the cosy solution of life with the local authority and to take the bold step of taking their future in their own hands. One reason for that decision was that it would give them access to private sector capital so that Thamesmead could be completed at a faster rate. My hon. Friend is quite right. There may be a message there for other parts of the country.

Mr. Rooker

Does the Minister agree that it would be a good idea if in the forthcoming housing and planning Bill, instead of delegating authority to local authorities, the Government followed Labour party policy and gave local authority tenants the statutory right to decide whether they wish to run their own estates, rather than leave it to public landlords? Is he aware that giving tenants the right to organise their own estates is fully in line with Labour party policy and that we are happy to support that, but that we will not support a Government who give power to local authorities to kick tenants out so that the houses can be done up and sold off?

Sir George Young

If the hon. Gentleman tables an amendment to that effect, it may well receive support from the Government. Anything which gives tenants greater rights is entirely in line with our tenants' charter, which seeks to give tenants greater independence from sometimes remote local authorities.