HC Deb 10 February 1986 vol 91 cc627-8
6. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many council houses have been sold to sitting tenants in Wales since May 1979.

23. Sir Raymond Gower

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many council dwellings have been sold to tenants (a) in the area of the Vale of Glamorgan council, (b) in the county of South Glamorgan and (c) in Wales since May 1979.

Mr. Mark Robinson

Between May 1979 and the end of last year 2,057 council dwellings were sold in the Vale of Glamorgan and 5,963 in South Glamorgan out of the estimated total of 46,000 sales in the whole of Wales. Taking sales by Cwmbran development corporation, Mid Wales Development and housing associations into account, under this Administration over 50,000 public sector tenants in Wales have now bought their homes.

Mr. Knox

How does the number of sales in the whole of Wales compare with the number of right-to-buy applications in Wales?

Mr. Robinson

Ninety per cent. of live applications have been processed.

Sir Raymond Gower

As the existing legislation varies the terms under which people can buy and resell, does my hon. Friend think it desirable that they should be publicised by his Department?

Mr. Robinson

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We propose, in the Housing and Planning Bill, to increase the discounts for flats to a maximum of 70 per cent. and to introduce measures to provide further protection for buyers of flats against unexpectedly high service charges. We also propose to reduce from five to three years the period during which discount would be repayable. That applies to flats and houses. We shall consider a publicity campaign when that Bill becomes law.

Mr. Roy Hughes

How many houses in Wales are unfit for human habitation? How many lack one or more of the basic amenities? Why has the money from the sale of council houses not been given to local authorities so that they can build houses for those who have to live in deplorable conditions?

Mr. Robinson

The Government have spent £275 million on private sector renovation, compared with the Labour Government's £57 million, and £205 million on public sector renovation, compared with the Labour Government's £86 million.

Mr. Best

Is it not a fact that the Government have given a dignity to council tenants which the Labour party has consistently denied them? The Government have enabled council tenants to buy council houses, which was consistently denied them by the Labour party; the Government have given council tenants a tenant's charter which enables them to do things with their council houses and to take in lodgers, which the Labour party has denied them; and the Government have introduced the right to repair as from 1 January 1986, which gives council tenants the opportunity to repair their homes, which the Labour party has again consistently denied them.

Mr. Robinson

I entirely agree with all of my hon. Friend's points. I only hope that that dignity will not be taken from council tenants by the Labour party if its policy document on the future of council house sales is put into effect.