§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future programme of large-scale voluntary transfers of local authority housing stock to housing associations.
§ Sir George Young
The Government are committed to a continuing programme of large-scale voluntary transfers. I will issue a consultation paper shortly setting out my proposals for the implementation of the manifesto commitment to limit the number of properties transferred in a single batch and on other possible changes to the arrangements for transfers. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will also be issuing a consultation paper.
It makes sense for future applications for consent for large-scale transfers under sections 32 to 43 of the Housing Act 1985 to be considered on the basis of the new arrangements arising out of the consultation exercise. However, I am aware that a small number of authorities have already issued a formal consultation notice to the tenants in accordance with the procedure set out in schedule 3A to the Housing Act 1985 or are on the point of issuing such a notice and have already incurred significant expenditure in preparing for transfer. These authorities are: East Cambridgeshire, Surrey Heath, Breckland, Woodspring and West Dorset district councils and the London boroughs of Hillingdon and Kingston upon Thames. I will be prepared to consider applications for large-scale transfers by these authorities under the existing guidelines, once they have completed consulting their tenants.