Since 1979, more than 217,000 public sector houses have been sold to sitting tenants in Scotland under the right-to-buy legislation. This has helped to raise the proportion of owner-occupiers in Scotland from around 35 to over 51 per cent. Through the right to buy, the Government are successfully meeting the aspirations of Scottish people to own their homes.
As those figures show clearly the great success of the right-to-buy scheme in Scotland at spreading ownership, choice and opportunity, will my hon. Friend confirm that the rent-to-mortgage scheme is similarly popular? Does he expect that, as with the right-to-buy scheme, Labour Members will have to eat their words about the rent-to-mortgage scheme?
Yes, I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. Some 20,000 people have expressed interest in the rent-to-mortgage scheme, which caters for a different market from the right-to-buy scheme. I believe that it will be extremely popular. Moreover, for every 1,000 sales, it will bring in approximately £8 million to the local authorities concerned which they can spend on public sector housing, so they are strongly encouraged to take up that opportunity and give assistance.
Will the Minister extend his enthusiasm for tenants' rights to the tenants of Scottish new towns and give them the right to choose their district council as landlord? I hope that the Minister will not say that it is a matter for his hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State, because Governments have collective responsibility.
No options are ruled out in that connection. We are considering the submission on behalf of new town tenants and shall come to a conclusion in due course. I enjoyed my visit to the hon. Gentleman's district council, where rapid progress is being made, and I look forward to its continuing.
Will the Minister confirm that, out of the 20,000 expressions of interest in the rent-to-mortgage scheme, only 118 people are applying to buy their own homes? Will he also confirm that his Department's expenditure on advertising and administration for those 118 houses is £275,000? Is he aware that that compares with the mere £280,000 available for new start capital works for 14,500 houses in the Moss Park area of Govan? When will he get his priorities right?
It is extremely important that tenants should be carefully and professionally counselled before they take that step and that process is under way. Naturally, it will start gradually, as it did under the right-to-buy scheme. If the hon. Gentleman wants more funds to be spent on Moss Park, I suggest that he makes representations to Glasgow district council to speed up the processing of council house sales, which takes about a year, and ensure that the period is reduced to six months. If he does, millions of pounds could be saved for spending on his constituents and on public sector housing stock in Glasgow.