§ Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the need for Government advice to council tenants on the purchase of their houses in the light of the activity of property speculators.Last Friday, Dundee's two daily newspapers—the Courier and Advertiser and the Evening Telegraph and Post—carried reports of an investigation which revealed growing concern that property speculators were attempting to take over the ownership of the homes of elderly council tenants in the city through manipulation of the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1984.
The manipulation takes the form of speculators approaching elderly tenants—in one case a woman in her eighties who was living alone—with what appears on the surface to be a generous offer. The speculator promises to give the tenant the cash needed to purchase his or her council home under the Act. The tenant is then told that he or she can stay in the house, rent free, for the remainder of his or her natural life. In return, the speculator is guaranteed ownership of the house when the tenant dies.
A number of serious and important issues are raised by this matter, most importantly the prospect of property speculators preying upon elderly people whom the speculators believe do not have long to live. There is also the question whether such vultures are acting within the law. If they are, what do the Government intend to do about it? There is also the question of the abuse of the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act, which was intended to provide massive public discounts to sitting tenants and not massive profits to property speculators at ratepayers' expense. Some of those speculators stand to pick up £22,000 council houses for as little as £7,000 by their methods. There is also the question of hard-pressed pensioners who have been on the receiving end of the recent rent and social security changes. They are particularly vulnerable to such sharp practice.
For those and for other reasons, Mr. Speaker, I beg you to recognise the urgency of the matter and to allow a debate so that the House can explore this issue fully and openly and resolve it in the interests of the people whom we were sent here to represent.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the need for Government advice to council tenants on the purchase of their houses in the light of the activity of property speculators.I have listened with great care to what the hon. Gentleman has said about this matter, but I regret that I do not consider that it can be appropriately raised under Standing Order No. 20. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House, but I hope that he will seek other ways of keeping the matter before the House.