Housing (Maladministration)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr David Martin Mr David Martin , Portsmouth South 12:00 am, 16th March 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will meet members of the local authority associations to discuss the findings of the latest annual report of the Local Government Ombudsman concerning maladministration in housing.

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne

No. The Local Government Ombudsman's findings of maladministration are addressed to the authorities being investigated and it is for them to consider what action they should take in response.

Photo of Mr David Martin Mr David Martin , Portsmouth South

Has my hon. Friend noticed that the report's findings of maladministration by Labour councils outnumber those by Conservative councils by four to one? Does that not provide eloquent evidence of what even the New Statesman admitted the other day, which was that Labour authorities make lousy landlords?

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne

There are many poor landlords among local authorities, but the Government's policies will change that. Tenants' choice will act as a powerful incentive for local authorities to bring their management and maintenance standards up to those of potential new landlords. Tenants will be able to seek a new landlord if they are dissatisfied with the standard of service they are receiving.

Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen , Leyton

While the Minister is considering maladministration in local government, will she give a thought to Westminster, which sold for 15p three cemetries which were worth about £5 million? That sum could have been used in the public sector for housing. Will the Minister take direct action to refer that waste of public money to the ombudsman?

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne

That is for the local councils and local ratepayers to do.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Does my hon. Friend agree that the time has come to put some teeth into the Local Government Ombudsman's reports, bearing in mind that often serious maladministration is thrown up in them and nothing is done about that by local councils, particularly Labour local councils such as Ealing?

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne

It is for the local authorities themselves to take note of what the Local Government Ombudsman says. I hope that local councillors will put pressure on management to put right whatever has caused the difficulty.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

As there is such anxiety about the efficiency and conduct of Labour-controlled local government among Conservative Members, why is there such a deafening silence about the conduct of the Conservative-controlled City of Westminster, which has facilitated and connived at the asset-stripping of cemetries in several other London boroughs? Would the Minister recommend to the ratepayers of Westminster that they raise that matter with the ombudsman?

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne

I think that this subject is already being investigated by other authorities.

Photo of Mr John Heddle Mr John Heddle , Staffordshire Mid

Is it not true that the Local Government Ombudsman in Northern Ireland has the legal teeth which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) said, the English local ombudsman does not have? Is it not also true that the Labour-controlled local authorities which he cited will not carry out the recommendations unless there are legal reasons why they should?