§ Mr. Knox
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he is satisfied that local authorities are processing applications by tenants to purchase their council houses sufficiently quickly; and if he will make a statement.
(2) what length of time he would expect to elapse between an application being made by a tenant to purchase a council house and the sale of the house being completed.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am satisfied with the speed of progress in the majority of cases. However, in certain authorities there is some evidence of progress being unsatisfactory.
No time limit is precribed under the Housing Act within which the transfer of a dwelling must be completed following an application to buy being admitted. However, where a secure tenant serves on his landlord a written notice claiming to exercise the right to buy, the landlord is required to respond within four weeks, or within eight weeks in certain cases. Where tenants have made representations to the Department about not receiving a response notice this is being taken up with the authority concerned. Further, where the right to buy has been established the landlord is required under section 10(1) to serve a notice on the tenant "as soon as practicable" describing the dwelling-house and stating, amongst other things, the price at which the landlord considers the tenant is entitled to have the dwelling conveyed to him. For the purpose of assessing the value of the house the local authority may either use its own valuation staff, the district valuer, or a private valuer.
Finally, where it seems to my right hon. Friend that a tenant has difficulty or may have difficulty in exercising the right to buy effectively and expeditiously he has powers to intervene under section 23.