Housing Transfers

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

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Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Liberal Democrat Chief Whip 2:30 pm, 28th June 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will place in the Library copies of the draft contracts and associated agreements seeking to transfer the ownership of all local authority housing stock from Berwickshire district council to Berwickshire housing association; and if he will make a statement. [29372]

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

I understand that the agreement to transfer Berwickshire district council's housing stock is currently the subject of negotiations between the council and Berwickshire housing association. Consequently, it would not be appropriate to place a copy in the Library.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Liberal Democrat Chief Whip

Does the Minister accept that one of Berwickshire district council's principal justifications for the transfer was that it would deny future generations of housing association tenants access to the right to purchase their properties, thereby preserving the district council's stock in the social rented sector? Given that the change in Government policy announced by the Secretary of State for the Environment at the Dispatch Box yesterday potentially frustrates that aim, will the Minister now publish the completed draft contracts that are about to be considered and allow a proper period of public consultation and debate before the Secretary of State for Scotland begins to consider authorising the transfer? Otherwise, the implications for prospective tenants of Berwickshire housing association properties cannot properly be assessed.

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

We are currently working out with Scottish Homes a scheme to enable housing association tenants to buy their homes on a voluntary basis. The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations will be consulted in due course and it will be for Berwickshire housing association to consider whether it wishes to participate in such a scheme.

The hon. Gentleman asked me to make the documents available in the Library. As Scottish Office Ministers are not a party to the contract, it is not appropriate for them to place the documents in the Library; it is for Berwickshire district council and Berwickshire housing association to consider whether to make the terms of the transfer agreement publicly available.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Liberal Democrat Chief Whip

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Due to the unsatisfactory nature of the answer that I have received from the Minister, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.