The Department has regular contact with the House Builders Federation, which has drawn attention to registered sites that appear to it to be suitable for housing. On the basis of this information and the Department's initial appraisal, it was decided to send formal letters to 38 landowner bodies asking to know their intentions in regard to a total of 78 sites in their ownership.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the problem of council house waiting lists could best be solved by encouraging the private sector to build homes for sale, using the half-and-half scheme and the other initiatives announced by his Department? Will he ensure that all local authorities and public sector landholders dispose of their land to the private sector as quickly as possible?
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that many local authorities need land for building council houses, and that many people have no hope of getting a home unless they can get a council house tenancy? In those circumstances, what will he do to prevent property speculators, who are anxious to make the most of sales to the private sector, from taking over all available land from local authorities which need it for other purposes?
I remind the hon. Gentleman that the land registers produce a list of sites for which there is no planned local authority development. If they had such plans, the land would not appear on the land register list.
Will my hon. Friend do all that he can to encourage local authorities to look within their boundaries for vacant land to develop both private and public sector housing, rather than constantly looking outward to green field sites?