§ 6. Sir David Mitchell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the arrangements for temporarily leasing empty MOD houses to local authorities to assist in their duty to provide accommodation for the homeless; how many houses on the MOD estate at Barton Stacey have been empty for more than six months; and what percentage of the estate this represents.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Kenneth Carlisle)
I am generally satisfied that the arrangements for temporarily leasing empty MOD houses to local authorities are adequate. We currently have more than 600 properties on lease throughout the United Kingdom, and we have recently offered a further 700 properties for leasing to 13 separate authorities, including Test Valley borough council in my hon. Friend's constituency. Sixteen houses on the MOD estates at Barton Stacey have been empty for more than six months, representing 12 per cent. of the MOD estate. Of those 16 properties, 11 are in the process of being sold.
§ Sir David Mitchell
I do not share my hon. Friend's satisfaction with the information that he has given. On 4 February, 20 per cent of the houses on the MOD estate were vacant, while the borough council's figure was 1 per cent. Will my hon. Friend overhaul the whole system of management, which is at present inadequate?
§ Mr. Carlisle
Where houses are not needed, we sell the surplus; however, we require a management margin of 9 per cent. As my hon. Friend knows, we cannot keep a waiting list for Army families, who move around every two months, whereas local authorities can build up substantial waiting lists.