HC Deb 06 November 1991 vol 198 cc436-7
7. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to enable housing association tenants to own their own home.

Mr. Heseltine

Secure tenants of housing associations normally have the right to buy, unless their landlord is a charity or a fully mutual co-operative. Housing associations, including charities, can also give grants under the Housing Corporation's tenants incentive scheme to help tenants move out and buy a home of their own, thereby releasing vacancies for reletting to homeless families.

The Government are discussing with the Housing Corporation the introduction of a programme of do-it-yourself shared ownership, under which tenants would find property on the open market which they would then buy jointly with a housing association. This scheme would be targeted on existing tenants in order to release property for reletting to the homeless.

Mr. Bowis

Although that is welcomed in most parts of the country, does my right hon. Friend agree that, because of property prices in London, it is difficult for people to move to other properties within the area? Palms would be laid before his feet if he came to Battersea in the near future with the keys of home ownership for housing association tenants under the right-to-buy scheme—something which they were promised in an earlier Parliament, but which was delayed by an unholy alliance in another place. Will my right hon. Friend look again at that possibility, particularly for London?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend realises that there was a formidable political dialogue about that issue and we have no plans to reopen it now. I am always pleased to receive invitations to visit Battersea and I think that I have always accepted them.

Mr. Fearn

Following the Minister's comments in the House on 12 July about commonhold, will he say whether his right-to-buy policy will be extended to long leaseholders who, at present, are not covered by legislation?

Mr. Heseltine

As the hon. Gentleman will know, I have no further announcements to add to my statement on commonhold. I have clarified the position on housing association tenants in the terms of the consultation to which I referred today.

Sir Anthony Grant

In addition to housing association tenants, will my right hon. Friend consider the position of tenants of Crown estates, many of whom have lived in their houses and taken great care of them for many years? Is not it only fair that they should have the same rights as tenants of council houses?

Mr. Heseltine

I cannot promise my hon. Friend that we will extend the rights to cover that area. I shall look at the matter again in view of my hon. Friend's interest, but I would not wish to give any further commitment.

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