§ Mr. Mikardo
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations he has received from local authority tenants' organisations and from individual local authority tenants concerning clause 5 of the Housing and Planning Bill; what proportions have expressed support for or opposition to the clause as it stands; what specific issues have been raised; and whether he intends either to withdraw clause 5 from the Bill or to bring forward further amendments to the clause in the light of these representations.
§ Mr. John Patten
We have received over 500 written representations about clause 5 (now clause 9) of the Housing and Planning Bill from people who are local authority tenants or from tenants' organisations. Two per cent. specifically opposed it and 98 per cent. asked questions or expressed concern.
The main concerns appear to stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of the clause. The worries were that the clause would remove the statutory security of tenure we gave council tenants for the first time in 1980; that despite the obligation the clause would impose on councils to consult tenants and to obtain the Secretary of State's approval before disposing of property for redevelopment and improvement and to offer alternative accommodation, it would afford inadequate safeguards; that, despite the enhanced opportunities it would give to bring in extra resources from the private sector for repair and improvement, the housing stock would somehow be diminished; that the chance of getting more homes repaired by private contractors would remove existing means of redress against poor workmanship and would reduce employment; and that the opportunity to harness the resources from private sector to bring empty houses back into use would add to homelessness.
The Government have no intentions of withdrawing or further amending the clause into which we have already built exceptional safeguards for the secure tenants (and which will extend their eligibility for home-loss payments).