HC Deb 28 July 1981 vol 9 cc438-9W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his policy of permitting council tenants to purchase their council houses from local authorities also applies to those allocated houses by local housing association with Government funds; and on what basis such sales are controlled.

Mr. Stanley

Under the Housing Act 1980 tenants of non-charitable housing associations which have received Government funds enjoy the right to buy their homes on the same terms, and subject to the same exclusions, as local authority tenants. Charitable housing associations were also empowered by the Act to sell to tenants if they wished to do so, and to offer discounts off market value up to the level available under the right to buy.

No distinction is made in the Act between those housing association tenants who were originally nominated to housing association dwellings by local authorities and those who were not.

Mr. Mellor

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further steps he is taking regarding those authorities where he is still contemplating use of his powers of intervention under section 23 of the Housing Act 1980.

Mr. Stanley

My right hon. Friend is today sending letters to the following authorities stating that he is contemplating intervention under section 23 of the Housing Act 1980Gateshead, Hackney, Leeds, Leicester, Norwich, Sunderland and Watford.

A further five authorities, to which my right hon. Friend sent similar letters a few weeks ago, have now given precise undertakings as to their timetables for processing the right to buy applications which they have received. In the light of these undertakings and other measures these five authorities are taking, my right hon. Friend has written to them today to inform them that he has decided not to intervene at the present time. He will continue to monitor carefully whether the tenants of these authorities have or may have difficulty in exercising their right to buy effectively and expeditiously and whether these authorities are fulfilling their undertakings within the timetables which they have given. These five authorities are as follows: Barnsley, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Walsall and Waltham Forest.

Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from council tenants whose local authority is seeking to make the exchange of a council dwelling conditional on their forfeiting their right to buy the house or flat to which they will move.

Mr. Stanley

My attention has been drawn to a letter from Norwich council relating to council tenents seeking to arrange mutual exchanges. In this letter the council state that it will consider mutual exchanges only if carried out by way of assignment. The effect of this would be to deny council tenants the right to buy the house or flat to which they moved and also to remove their statutory security of tenure. The Government consider that it is totally unacceptable for a local authority to try to exploit a tenant's wish to exchange in order to get him to forfeit his right to buy. The Government will bring forward legislation to prevent this practice being continued. As this practice represents an attempt to remove from individuals their rights under existing legislation, the legislation will, subject to parliamentary approval, be given effect as from today.