This matter was brought forward because many local authorities in England were interested and made applications. As yet, there have been no applications from Scottish local authorities. The hon. Member for Cathcart should be aware that the district council has made large-scale disposals at Castlemilk to the Scottish Special Housing Association. Many disposals have been made by district councils in favour of co-operatives.
The amendments necessary to preserve the right to buy and to require consultation with tenants could be lengthy and complex. We want to ensure that we get their wording right. The Housing Bill is behind the Housing (Scotland) Bill in its progress through Parliament. We believe that it is right to take extra time to prepare such amendments properly.
The new clause is intended to clarify the Secretary of State's powers under section 12 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. Section 13 of that Act says that the Secretary of State may impose such conditions as he thinks just in giving approval. Clarification will be of assistance to local authorities proposing to dispose of stock, to potential purchasers, who will more readily know what the likelihood is of a disposal being allowed, and to the tenant, who will be more aware of the relevant issues. As the Secretary of State has already said, the considerations that will be taken into account are the extent to which the receiving body will be independent of the disposing council, of the extent to which the interested purchaser would become the predominant or substantial owner of housing to let and of the terms of the disposal.
The hon. Member for Cathcart asked about receipts from sales. Receipts from the sales of substantial parts of a local authority's housing stock should be used to repay outstanding loan debt of the housing revenue account. There are powers under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 to ensure that receipts are used to repay loan debts.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) asked about the number of applications from Scottish authorities. This is not an immediate matter in Scotland, but it may suddenly arise if a local authority wishes to apply. In those circumstances, we want to ensure that the interests of tenants are properly safeguarded.