Tenants Charter

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24 March 1993.

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Photo of Tony Wright Tony Wright , Cannock and Burntwood 12:00, 24 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress on the tenants charter.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

There is continuing interest in the charter, mainly from tenants. More than 200,000 tenants, have already applied directly to my Department for copies of the full charter.

Photo of Tony Wright Tony Wright , Cannock and Burntwood

Is the Minister aware that tenants used to have a charter right to decide who should manage their estates? Will he confirm that that right of veto by tenants is being removed by the Government's Housing and Urban Development Bill? Does that not demonstrate the hypocrisy of a Government who pretend to be the tenant's friend, but when it comes to the choice between the rights of tenants and the Government's mania for privatisation they put dogma first and tenants last?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

If the hon. Member were to look at the Bill and its provisions, he would see that tenants have far more rights to be consulted under the Bill than they have at present and will be much more involved in the tendering process than they are at the moment. The truth is that this Government and the Conservative party have introduced the right to repair, the right to improvement, the right to manage, the right to buy and the right to be consulted. We are determined that tenants should have proper rights and effective remedies. Labour Members are concerned about that because they know that all too often Labour councils are incapable of delivering effective housing management.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Will the Minister confirm whether, under the tenants charter, it will be possible for tenants who pay their rent regularly and on time to force incompetent councils such as Lambeth and Southwark to take action against tenants who do not?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

We are determined that standards of housing management should be driven up. Too many local authorities are lax in doing repairs and lax in collecting rents—and all too often they are Labour-controlled authorities. I invite any Opposition Member who doubts that to spend half an hour with me and walk across Westminster bridge to the China Walk estate in Lambeth, where I can introduce him to large numbers of people who have been waiting for basic repairs for some considerable time.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

How satisfied is the Minister with his Department's record in improving housing conditions for disabled people seeking more suitable premises?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

We have a very good record on renovation grants and on grants for disabled facilities. They have increased substantially in recent years and we will see that they continue to do so.