The answer is that, if loan charges were not repaid from receipts, the amount of debt per house would increase significantly, thus pushing rents up, which is not what the hon. Lady wants.
Although few local authorities in Scotland have shown any definite interest in making large-scale disposals of their stock, it will be helpful to them to know where they stand, should they wish to pursue sales of this type. The provisions in the new clause in no way compel local authorities to sell their stock. We are talking about voluntary sales. The Government are sympathetic to the concept of large-scale disposals, provided sales take place on the right terms. The Scottish Development Department has written to all local authorities in Scotland. In the summer, guidelines will be formulated and circulated to local authorities, giving details of the ways in which the Secretary of State will exercise the powers in section 12(7) of the 1987 Act and the new clause.
The guidelines will make it clear that new landlords will be expected to allocate houses to those most in need. They will be expected to give disadvantaged groups special attention. Before approval is given, the Secretary of State will have to be satisfied that the receiving landlord is a stable and responsible organisation with a long-term commitment to the provision of rented housing for those who need it. Councils will be expected to obtain undertakings from the purchaser that he would normally relet housing which becomes vacant at rents set and maintained at levels within the reach of those in lower-paid employment.