§ 55. Mrs. Clwyd
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any further plans to assist first-time buyers.
§ Mr. Chope
Under this Government the number of owner-occupiers has risen dramatically by over 3 million. More people now own their homes than ever before. We do not believe that further general incentives to owner-occupation are necessary.
However, we are funding through the Housing Corporation shared ownership schemes run by housing associations which allow people to enter the housing market by purchasing part of the equity in their homes, and paying rent on the balance.
§ 60. Mr. Matthew Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider making changes to section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 to help local first-time buyers along similar lines to those the Welsh Office has announced it is considering for Wales.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
My right hon. Friend's statement of 3 February at column433 indicated the basis on which planning authorities in rural areas in England may wish to release small additional sites for development where there is evidence of a local need for low cost housing. The draft planning guidance issued by the Welsh Office on 30 June is on broadly similar lines, but with specific reference to conditions in Wales. It proposes no amendment of section 52.
My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales issued a consultation paper on 11 July (Official Report column 483) which invited 780W comments on separate proposals to amend section 52. In that context we shall consider any views on the need for changes to section 52 to facilitate the provision of low cost rural housing. Comments are invited by 11 September.