HC Deb 15 March 1995 vol 256 c893
14. Mr. Knapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many homes have been sold under right-to-buy legislation.

Mr. Gummer

In England, more than 1.23 million homes have been sold under the right to buy. The figure for Great Britain as a whole is more than 1.5 million.

Mr. Knapman

That is excellent news. Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that housing is more affordable than it has been for some years, and seek to promote opportunities for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people to join the property-owning democracy, for their benefit and for ours?

Mr. Gummer

The situation is improving considerably. We are now selling houses under the right-to-buy scheme or similar schemes to the tune of 60,000 per year. That means, of course, that those people are choosing to buy their homes knowing that the Labour party would have stopped them. That is the distinction between the parties.

Mr. Fraser

Will the Secretary of State pay tribute to the splendid way in which housing associations have reinvested the proceeds of houses sold under the right to buy? Why does he not let local authorities do the same?

Mr. Gummer

The right-to-buy system does not work in that way for housing associations—only if they have carried the right to buy on from the local authorities, as the hon. Gentleman no doubt knows on reflection. We allow local authorities to reinvest the money, but we also ask them to pay off the mortgages that they have incurred to build the houses in the first place.

Dr. Twinn

I thank my hon. Friend for his continuing and enthusiastic support for the right to buy. I also thank him for listening to the great concerns of right-to-buy leaseholders in Enfield and Edmonton, who enthusiastically grasped the opportunity to buy, but now find themselves stuck in properties with structural damage which was not disclosed to them when they bought the houses. It is a reasonably small number of people, but they deserve our urgent help. Will the Secretary of State give me an answer?

Mr. Gummer

I praise my hon. Friend for leading the campaign of this relatively small but important group of people who have those particular problems. He knows that I am looking at them very carefully.