Housing Action Trusts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 11th July 1988.

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Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West 3:31 pm, 11th July 1988

The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) knows the answers to most of those questions because he asked them in Committee and he was given the answers then. I had intended to answer a written question put down by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), but I am delighted to answer this matter orally.

The hon. Member for Hammersmith knows very well that there will be consultation with the tenants at all stages and that all the plans and directions, if any, from the Secretary of State will be published. I believe that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that. The hon. Gentleman also knows that the interests of local people are central to the housing action trusts. I had hoped that, rather than taking the usual negative attitude, he would have welcomed what amounts to an additional £125 million over three years for six of the areas where there is most need for that money to be spent. I am sorry that he has not found it in him to welcome that. There is a duty to co-operate with local authorities on homelessness, and he is aware of that. I believe that it is slightly unlikely that there will be Ministry of Defence properties on any of the estates, but if there are, we shall hope to get them back into action as soon as possible.

The hon. Gentleman is well aware of the system for the return of the estates to local authorities if they are willing to have them back, and these authorities will be free to purchase the estates back if they wish to do so.

There was no need for the cheap remark about Mr. van Hoogstraten because the hon. Gentleman knows that any transfers out of HATs will be to "tenant-guaranteed" landlords, housing associations and co-operatives. It is a bit of a cheap scare story to bring Mr. van Hoogstraten into this.

I believe that, in the next few weeks, when the tenants in the designated areas receive the information about the immense potential benefits on offer, they will take a slightly more generous and positive view than the hon. Gentleman.