HC Deb 22 January 1986 vol 90 c304
18. Mr. Thurnham

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the objectives of his Department's home ownership policy; how is he monitoring its effectiveness; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young

The objective of my Department's home ownership policy is to enable more people to own their own homes, as the overwhelming majority wish. The measure of its effectiveness is the increase of more than two million in the number of owner-occupied homes in Britain since we took office in 1979. In that time, Government policies have directly achieved the sale of more than 800,000 public sector dwellings to sitting tenants.

Mr. Thurnham

If home ownership is brought within the reach of more people, does that not enable local authorities to concentrate resources on those in greatest need?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend is quite right. If we can bring home ownership within the reach of those on the waiting list or those who are already local authority tenants, local authorities can concentrate their resources on those in need whom the private sector cannot help.

Mr. Dubs

What about the people on the waiting list who cannot afford to buy their own homes? Will the Minister comment on the policies of local authorities, including Wandsworth council, which are selling off many empty council properties to people who are not on the waiting list, thus saying to people who are homeless, badly housed, overcrowded and living in tower blocks "You have no chance of better housing in your lifetime"?

Sir George Young

I spent the morning in the hon. Member's constituency of Battersea. The threat to security of tenure is not to the tenant, but to the hon. Gentleman, as a result of the imaginative policies pursued by the local authority. When estates are privatised and flats are sold, they are offered in the first instance to those on the waiting list or to those who are already in local authority accommodation, who have the benefit of discounts. In general, those are the people who buy privatised property.