HC Deb 16 December 1992 vol 216 cc315-6W
Mr. George Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list each consultation exercise which his Department is currently engaged in, in respect of the Housing and Urban Development Bill; and if he will in each case state the purpose of that consultation, the relevant clause of the Bill to which it relates, the bodies being consulted and the deadline for submissions to him.

Mr. Baldry

The various provisions in the Bill have been subject to extensive consultation. In addition, my Department is consulting now on the detailed operation of the proposed new right, contained in clause 109 of the Bill, for local authority tenants to receive compensation for improvements they carry out to their homes. The consultation paper, "Compensation for Tenants' Improvements", was issued jointly by the Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office on 4 December 1992. Responses are due by 22 January 1993.

My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Wales have today announced the publication of a further consultation paper entitled, "Tenant Involvement and the Right to Manage". This seeks views on arrangements for the proposed greater involvement of local authority tenants in housing management delegations—clause 114—and the proposed new right to manage for tenants who wish to assume direct responsibility for the management of their estates—clause 115. Responses are due by 26 February 1993. We also intend issuing consultation papers on the implementation of the proposed right to repair—clause 108—and powers relating to the provision of welfare services for tenants in local authority accommodation—clauses 110 to 112.

In addition, we are consulting on proposals for changes in the arrangements for voluntary transfers of local authority owned housing to housing associations. Should my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State decide to proceed with these proposals, legislation would be required. One option would be to provide for the latter by means of amendment to the Housing and Urban Development Bill. A consultation paper on the proposals entitled, "Local Authority Housing in England: Voluntary Transfers", was issued on 18 November 1992. Responses are due by 8 January 1993.

Lists of the bodies being consulted for each of the three current consultation exercises mentioned above have been placed in the library.

Mr. Gale

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to publish a consultation paper on the new framework for tenant involvement and the right to manage in the Housing and Urban Development Bill.

Sir George Young

I have today, together with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, published a consultation paper entitled "Tenant Involvement and the Right to Manage". The consultation paper seeks views from interested parties on the Government's proposals to increase tenant involvement as part of the process of delegation of housing management to other organisations—including delegations made as a result of extending CCT to housing management—and on the new right to manage. Both proposals are fully in line with the citizens charter and represent one of the most significant enhancements of tenants' rights seen in recent times.

The Government's proposal will for the first time establish a framework—first, by good practice, but later, if need be, through regulations—for the most extensive package of consultation rights ever put before Parliament. Tenants will now be involved, through the process of housing management CCT, in drawing up the specification for the management of their estate, helping to select the managing organisation and monitoring its performance. The cornerstone of these measures is a new statutory right for council tenants to manage their own estates, which removes at a stroke, the obstacles which some reluctant authorities continue to put in the path of tenants who wish to manage things themselves.

These proposals will be seen as a watershed in the history of tenant participation in this country, and will I am sure be widely welcomed by all who read and reflect on the consultation paper.

The powers which will give effect to these proposals are contained in clauses 114 and 115 of the Housing and Urban Development Bill.

Copies of the consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.