HC Deb 06 June 1995 vol 261 cc9-10
9. Mr. Patchett

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received in the last six months in respect of his Department's empty housing stock. [25102]

Mr. Soames

My Department has received numerous representations from hon. Members and from other interested parties about empty housing.

Mr. Patchett

Does the Minister agree that it is simply outrageous that so many houses should remain vacant while so many people are homeless? Why cannot the Government get their act together and provide proper housing for our armed forces and use any excess housing for the homeless of this country?

Mr. Soames

The hon. Gentleman makes the perfectly fair point that we have too many empty married quarters. We have currently more than 13,000 vacant married quarters, of which about 4,000 are being sold or leased and approximately 9,000 are service stock.

However, the House should remember that service housing stock must meet the special and unique needs of the armed forces, and that the lowest practical level of vacant properties will always be greater than that of local authorities or housing associations. That said, we acknowledge that we need to do better, and we will do better.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

My hon. Friend is currently considering a major disposal of 240 married quarters at the former flying school at RAF Rissington situated at the top of the Cotswolds which will have a major impact on my constituency. Will my hon. Friend please take full account of the views of local people, and particularly the views of the Cotswold district council and not merely sell the site to the highest bidder?

Mr. Soames

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the very forceful presentation of his case. If he will be good enough to get in touch with me and let me know what the views of the Cotswold district council are, I shall be happy to examine them.