Scottish Homes

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Administration Committee 2:30 pm, 28th June 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland the board of Scottish Homes will next meet to discuss the transfer of Scottish Homes property. [29367]

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

The board of Scottish Homes meets regularly to discuss a range of issues, including the transfer of its housing stock. It will next meet on 17 July 1995.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Administration Committee

May I inform the Secretary of State that Scottish Homes intends to invite every housing association in my area to tender for the transfer of its property, including an organisation called Gemini which Scottish Homes itself created? The twist in the story is that Mr. Mackinlay intends to get an opinion poll company to find out which housing association is the most popular, and the most popular housing association will then go on to the ballot paper. Does the Secretary of State agree that on that basis his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would not get on to any ballot paper, as he is not doing too well in the opinion polls?

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

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his close interest in matters affecting the Conservative party. With regard to the Scottish Homes proposals, the hon. Gentleman will agree that there is a considerable advantage in seeking diversification in housing tenure in Scotland, which has not only created more choice and alternatives for occupants but has released substantial resources to be reinvested in housing in Scotland.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Does my right hon. Friend agree that most tenants will welcome the transfer, but that no tenant in Monklands would welcome the transfer of any home from Scottish Homes to Monklands district council, which is corrupt, incompetent, dishonest and racist?

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

I can reassure my hon. Friend that, so far as the transfer of housing is concerned, 25 succesful ballots have taken place, involving 13,000 homes, in which the tenants have voted by a clear majority to transfer.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion , Dundee East

Will Scottish Homes properties be transferred in the future under a scheme similar to the one announced yesterday for England and Wales which gives grant assistance to housing association tenants to purchase their own homes? If so, will the Secretary of State explain how that will benefit the two thirds of housing association tenants in Scotland who have state benefit as their principal source of income and the 75 per cent. of tenants who need housing benefit to help pay housing association rents?

Is it not time that the Government listened to the advice given to them yesterday by an archbishop to stop loading the dice in favour of the one form of housing tenure that they prefer and to get back to meeting the real housing need in this country by building housing at affordable rents for the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens who are either homeless or trapped on housing waiting lists and for whom the right to buy is about as relevant as the right to stay at the Ritz hotel in London?

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

That reveals the old, atavistic attitudes of the Labour party to housing. There is a huge demand to buy council houses in Scotland. It is a right that we gave to council tenants. We fought the measure through against the sustained opposition of the Labour party—opposition which continues in some district councils. Private ownership in Scotland has now risen to approaching 60 per cent. Some 300,000 tenants have been given the opportunity by a Conservative Government to buy their homes. Clearly, the Labour party is out of touch on housing.