HC Deb 21 December 1988 vol 144 c431
3. Mr. Devlin

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many public sector houses have been sold under the right to buy; what is the current level of applications; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Between April 1979 and September 1988, about 133,000 public sector houses in Scotland have been sold to sitting tenants under the right-to-buy legislation and voluntary sales. Some 4,500 applications per month have been received on average during 1988. This sustained high level of applications is clear evidence of the continuing success of the Government's right-to-buy policy.

Mr. Devlin

Given that in England about 62 per cent. of the population own their own homes as against a measly 42 per cent. in Scotland, does my hon. Friend agree that it is a most welcome development to see recent house sales under the right-to-buy policy and so many Scottish people following the example of the hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) and buying their houses under the right-to-buy scheme?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Many Scots now believe that the best landlord that they can have is themselves. However, while 18 per cent. of the stock has been sold south of the border, 13.6 per cent. has been sold in Scotland. If sales continue at that rate, we will reach the 150,000 mark around May 1989.

Mr. Michael J. Martin

The Minister will be aware that in communities such as mine where people exercised the right-to-buy three or four years ago, "for sale" signs are now up in the council house windows and many of those houses are going to the highest bidder—[Interruption.] It is all very well for Conservative Members to claim that they are trading up. There are 8,000 people unemployed in my constituency who cannot trade up. Is it not time that the Government built houses and decent homes for those people to live in?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I was glad to be in the hon. Gentleman's constituency a few days ago, when I learnt that the Housing Corporation is building a number of shared-ownership houses, which is proving very successful. Research has shown that once tenants have purchased their houses, most remain living there. In fact, they wish to remain whether or not they purchase them.