Orders of the Day — Housing and Building Control Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 5th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne 3:37 pm, 5th July 1983

Yes, I agree.

The board offers to sell on highly advantageous terms with discounts of 50 per cent. The House will note that those discounts are in most cases more generous than those enjoyed by public authority tenants who exercise the right to buy. The discounts on houses offered for sale by the coal board are an immediate discount of 50 per cent. with no qualifying period. The new owner, the miner who has bought his house, may sell it at once without surrendering any profit to the coal board.

What has been the miners' response to that offer? Since 1976, 33,000 miners have opted for home ownership rather than tenancy. I have not heard the faintest whisper of protest from either Mr. Arthur Scargill or the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for not having given him notice that I was going to refer to him. I did not do so because, to his great credit, he is such an assiduous attender in this place that I did not think that it was necessary. Nevertheless, I apologise.

It is not just the miners who have been eager to become owner-occupiers. The former agent to the hon. Member for Bolsover bought his house from the Bolsover district council. A lifelong Socialist in Birmingham, who had agreed to buy his house from the then Conservative-controlled city council, was banned from buying when the Socialists took control. He said: It seems to me that once Labour win your vote and get in power, they don't want to know ordinary people any more. He went on: I have supported Labour since I was old enough to vote but now I am disgusted with the party. I feel totally let down and I shall be saying so to local Labour people. He concluded: There is nothing wrong with the working man owning his own house. I could not have put it better myself.