HC Deb 05 April 1989 vol 150 cc179-80
5. Mr. Knox

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

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Since April 1979 nearly 150,000 public sector houses in Scotland have been sold to sitting tenants. Included in that figure are more than 102,000 sales by local authorities.

Mr. Knox

What percentage of the council housing stock in Scotland has been sold to sitting tenants and if that figure is still significantly below that for England, what steps is my hon. Friend taking to increase the number of council houses in Scotland that are sold to tenants?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Approximately 14.7 per cent. of the public sector housing stock has been sold since 1979. In England the figure is 19.5 per cent., but the figures for Scotland are escalating rapidly. In the third quarter of 1988 such sales were running at about 4,150 per month, which is 43 per cent. higher than the figures for the corresponding quarter of 1987. My hon. Friend will be encouraged to hear that the demand is constantly growing.

Mr. Ingram

If a private landlord takes over public sector housing stock and resells it to another private landlord, will sitting tenants retain the right to buy?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

It depends whether the hon. Gentleman is asking about tenants' choice or voluntary disposal. With voluntary disposals, a sitting tenant has the right to buy.

Mrs. Ray Michie

For those tenants who do not choose to buy their own house, wall Scottish Homes guarantee their rights if they choose a new landlord and that landlord does not carry out his managerial responsibilities?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Scottish Homes will certainly have a monitoring role which I expect it to take seriously.

Dr. Reid

Instead of striding to the Dispatch Box to boast about the number of council houses that he has sold off, would not the Minister do better to give us an abject apology for his shameful record on building them in the first place? Why does the Minister think that we have 30,000 homeless families in Scotland? Why are 192,000 families on waiting lists, on which they wait for an average of three years? Why have 40,000 families waited more than four or five years for a council house? Is it not because the Government's record shows a drop in council house building from 18,500 council houses in 1979 to 8,500 council house start-ups now? Is that not a shameful record for any Government?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The hon. Gentleman anticipates the next question. His first comments were based on a fundamental misconception. I have not sold any council houses. All that the Government did was to provide a right to tenants under the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980 which included security of tenure. To their eternal shame, the Labour Opposition opposed that measure.

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