London (Government Policies)

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 2:25 pm on 13th March 1981.

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Photo of Mr Michael Shersby Mr Michael Shersby , Hillingdon Uxbridge 2:25 pm, 13th March 1981

I am pleased to be able to take up the remarks of the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson). We both represent constituencies that are situated in the London borough of Hillingdon, which is a well-managed authority. When I considered the motion I had to ask myself where in London was the real crisis to which it refers. I believe that the crisis is in the badly managed boroughs.

Hillingdon's housing capital expenditure is continuing intact despite a £5 million reduction in the HIP allocation because capital receipts have enabled the borough to top it up by an equivalent amount. That is the answer to the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), who would not give way to me during his remarks. If he has problems of the sort that he described in Newham, he should talk to his council about the sale of council houses. If it were selling council houses at the rate at which Hillingdon is selling them, it would have enough capital receipts to top up the HIP allocation.

Hillingdon has sold 2,300 houses to sitting tenants. It has sold 600 new properties to existing tenants or waiting list applicants, including 100 through the equity sharing scheme. It has sold a large amount of surplus land. All that activity has generated substantial capital receipts that have enabled it to make up for the loss in its housing investment programme allocation.

In the eight years that I have represented Uxbridge in Parliament. I have, like every other hon. Member, seen thousands of young people who have needed accommodation. During the past three years or so the equity sharing scheme has proved a lifeline to home ownership for many young people who otherwise would never have contemplated home ownership. Young couples have attended my constituency surgery who have never even thought of buying a home. I have sent them to the Hillingdon council to discuss the equity sharing scheme. It has been a great pleasure to me to receive letters from those youngsters to tell me that they are occupying their own homes, something that they thought would never be possible. Equity sharing is a scheme that should be used widely by local authorities throughout London. It is a first-class method of relieving the housing crisis. It helps people into home ownership for the first time.

The need that the Government have identified to redress the balance between the counties and London has hit London generally, including well-managed authorities such as Hillingdon. It is not good enough to cast all the blame on the Government. The answer is for authorities to generate capital receipts.

We have heard much about social services today, especially from the hon. Member for Newham, North-East. Hillingdon is starting on a new old persons' home at a cost of £1·3 million. Another one is to be opened shortly. The possibility of building these homes has come about because of the sale of surplus land by the borough council. How many other borough councils in London, of whatever party, are sitting on surplus land?