Regions, Transport and DEFRA

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:57 pm on 19th November 2002.

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Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Local Government and the Regions, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:57 pm, 19th November 2002

I presume that the right hon. Gentleman is arguing that capital receipts might be used to buy houses, and he has a fair point. When we discussed the matter, he said that he was going to send me his plan on that, but it has still not arrived. I look forward to its arrival, as we must have a proper debate on the subject. It is an important issue and we intend to enter into a debate on it. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I will make a fuller statement in January on the community plan and how we will allocate resources to social housing and to housing provision generally. He well knows that the situation is different in different parts of the country. The previous Administration's right-to-buy legislation exempted rural areas where that right could be considered a threat to the provision of housing. The position was not felt to be the same in urban areas, but there is a powerful case to be made for certain areas of London with a housing crisis. I intend to claim for urban areas the rights that have been claimed for rural areas.

The right hon. Gentleman said an awful lot about giving housing associations the right to buy. We shall wait for the plans which he suggested at his party conference were part of a new policy. The proposal is in fact not new—it was proposed by Mrs. Thatcher in 1979 and, I believe, by Mr. Hague. The trouble, however, is implementation. Housing charities have real difficulties with the long-term financing of housing—I am sure we all agree about that. The proposal was good for conference, but there was not much action—it was just about getting conference going.