HC Deb 26 April 1989 vol 151 cc947-8
10. Mr. Baldry

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next expects to meet the chairman of the Housing Corporation to discuss the corporation's budget.

Mr. Trippier

My noble Friend the Minister for Housing, Environment and Countryside and I meet the chairman of the Housing Corporation regularly.

Mr. Baldry

Further to that answer, can my hon. Friend confirm that the Housing Corporation will enable housing associations to have ample provision in rural areas such as north Oxfordshire? What are the Government doing to encourage local authorities to take advantage of the new planning powers for development, to enable the building of more local homes for local people on low incomes?

Mr. Trippier

We are certainly providing for an expansion of housing association provision in rural areas, and north Oxfordshire will benefit from that expansion. We will soon be issuing to planning authorities a revised version of our guidance on land for housing.

Mr. Madden

Will the Minister have urgent discussions with the Housing Corporation to ensure that any redevelopment of the Lower Grange estate in my constituency has adequate properties to rent at rents that those who wish to live on the estate can afford to pay?

Mr. Trippier

That was the purpose of the Housing Act 1988. It encourages housing associations—perhaps sponsored by the Housing Corporation—to make available properties at rents within the means of those on low pay.

Mr. Bowis

When my hon. Friend meets the chairman of the Housing Corporation, will he express our congratulations to the housing association movements on their contribution to housing? Will my hon. Friend also tell the chairman that it is no part of its remit to lock people out of home ownership and, therefore, will he bring forward plans to give the right to buy to housing association tenants and, in the meantime, encourage equity-sharing schemes?

Mr. Trippier

I shall certainly pass on the congratulaions of my hon. Friend to the chairman of the Housing Corporation. My hon. Friend will be aware that approximately half of the housing associations have properties where the right to buy can exist. It depends on whether they are charitable or non-charitable. If they are non-charitable, they can certainly allow people to buy their homes.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

The Minister will be aware that in areas such as mine young couples have terrible problems in finding a home that they can afford to buy or rent, especially in small rural villages. Will the Minister remind the House of the pitiful proportion of the Housing Corporation's funds that go to rural areas? What proportion does he hope will be spent in future in rural areas, as that is at least one way of alleviating the problem for couples in areas such as mine?

Mr. Trippier

It is not a pitiful proportion. The amount of money that we are making available to the Housing Corporation for the need identified by the hon. Gentleman has quadrupled. The hon. Gentleman also chooses conveniently to forget that we can have private sector finance or even mixed funding going into developments in the rural areas. [Interruption.] I am answering the question. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has the attention span of a gerbil, but I am trying to answer the question.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Remarks of that kind do not help us here.

Mr. Trippier

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. I am answering the question. I am addressing the precise point which the hon. Gentleman is trying to raise. It relates to the development of rural housing which is within the reach of people on low pay. That is precisely what we are doing with the new housing association initiative and the mixed funding which is now allowed under the Housing Act 1988.

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