Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:12 pm on 22nd February 1995.

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Photo of Mr Gordon McMaster Mr Gordon McMaster , Paisley South 2:12 pm, 22nd February 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet representatives of Scottish Homes to discuss housing in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I meet the board of Scottish Homes from time to time to discuss a range of issues, the last occasion being on 7 November 1994. I have no immediate plans for a further meeting.

Photo of Mr Gordon McMaster Mr Gordon McMaster , Paisley South

Does the Secretary of State recall that, when Scottish Homes was founded as Scotland's national housing agency, he told the House that it would be founded on the twin principles of efficiency and tenant choice? Is it efficient for Scottish Homes to empty a 56-flat multi-storey building in my constituency— Waverley court—for a redevelopment which we are still awaiting six years later? Is it democracy or tenant choice to offer tenants, like it or lump it, take it or leave it, no choice of landlord? Is it not time that the Secretary of State told Sir James Mellon, the chairman of Scottish Homes, to start concentrating on problems like that, instead of using Scottish Homes as a machine for party political propaganda?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should make those comments about Scottish Homes. According to a letter that I have seen, the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) said that much of what Scottish Homes had achieved was "commendable" and that Scottish Homes had been a "breath of fresh air" for housing in Scotland.

I believe that Scottish Homes has created an enormous number of achievements in Scotland. So far as individual cases are concerned, if the matter to which the hon. Gentleman refers has been running for as long as the hon. Gentleman suggests, I am surprised that he has not been in touch with the Government or with Scottish Homes to clarify it earlier.

Photo of Mr Raymond Robertson Mr Raymond Robertson , Aberdeen South

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in my constituency, Scottish Homes has acted as a catalyst in bringing the private and public sectors together in the Aberdeen city centre partnership to transform and rejuvenate the centre of Aberdeen by an imaginative policy of building new homes and refurbishing old properties? Is he also aware that that policy is encouraging up to 2,000 people to come back to live in the centre of the great city of Aberdeen? Does he agree that that is more typical of the excellent work being done up and down the country by Scottish Homes?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

Indeed I do. I gather that some £6.5 million has been invested in that project, and it is a good example of the kind of partnership which Scottish Homes makes the keynote of its activities. The project involves Grampian regional council, Aberdeen district council and the local enterprise company. That is exactly the kind of catalytic partnership which can do so much to improve Scottish housing.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Administration Committee

We all know what a good job Scottish Homes does, and that is why we do not want to see it broken up by hatchet men such as Mr. Mackinlay. Can the Secretary of State give an assurance that, if tenants in my constituency and others vote to stay with Scottish Homes, they will be entitled to the same high standards from that landlord?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am certain that Scottish Homes would never distinguish between different categories of tenants in terms of the service it offered them.

Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin , West Derbyshire

When my right hon. Friend next meets representatives of Scottish Homes, could he ask for an updated report on the right to buy in Scotland? Will he inform the House about the success of that policy in giving tenants the right to buy their own homes?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The right to buy has been enormously successful, and Scottish Homes has been at the forefront of disposing houses to sitting tenants as well. We have sold some 300,000 council houses in Scotland since the policy began. The policy had to be fought through in the teeth of fierce opposition from the Opposition. Thus, 300,000 tenants and their families have had the kind of housing that they wanted.

Photo of David Marshall David Marshall , Glasgow Shettleston

Does the Secretary of State agree that there is a shortage of special needs housing in Scotland, especially in the city of Glasgow? If he does agree, will he make adequate resources available to Scottish Homes to ensure that there is a substantial increase in the number of special needs houses available? If not, why not?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

Scottish Homes makes a feature of meeting special needs in its housing programme, and it has embarked upon a programme of providing 2,000 community care and other special needs houses.