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?
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.
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?
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.