Section 80 — Grants for housing purposes

Housing (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:30 pm on 13th June 2001.

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Amendment 137 moved—[Fiona Hyslop].

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The question is, that amendment 137 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 48

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Stevenson, Stewart, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gallie, Phil, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Sheridan, Tommy

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 34, Against 84, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 137 disagreed to.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Amendment 176 would amend section 80, which deals with grants for housing purposes.

As drafted, the bill would give ministers the power to grant moneys to local authorities to provide support for improving, adapting and repairing properties that are not on the authority's housing revenue account—for example, properties that are owned by housing associations.

It has been argued that housing associations must be given some protection. If local authorities have the power to make development grants available not only for their own stock, but for housing association stock, they might give preference to their own stock at the expense of housing association stock.

Amendment 176 carries through some of the arguments that have been heard during previous debates on the powers that should be granted to local authorities to make development funding available for cross-tenure stock, even when that stock is not transferred. My view is that there is a strong argument in support of that proposal. I am not saying that such a power should be exercised by all councils. Amendment 176 would give ministers discretion in deciding which councils should have that power. It would also give ministers flexibility in allowing councils, on certain occasions, to have that power without necessarily transferring all their stock.

We have spoken to a number of councils and we believe that amendment 176 would be a useful provision, although we do not necessarily believe that all councils should receive that power. However, I suggest that well-run councils such as Clackmannanshire Council and Angus Council—which are run by the SNP—would be prime candidates. I would allow the minister discretion on which councils should be allowed development funding. That would be fair.

Amendment 176 is constructive, and I look forward to the minister's comments on it.

I move amendment 176.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I think that Angus Council has had the fastest rent increases in the past four years, although I do not know.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Fiona Hyslop raised the same point at stage 2 and we diligently sought to clarify the position. Nevertheless, here we go again.

Sections 80, 82 and 83 provide the statutory basis for a transfer of responsibility for development funding from Scottish Homes—or from Scottish ministers in future—to local authorities. Section 80 therefore gives powers to Scottish ministers to provide grant aid to local authorities for specified purposes and sections 82 and 83 give local authorities wide-ranging powers to fund other housing providers—powers that parallel those that are currently enjoyed by Scottish Homes. Those powers are the cornerstone of what we have described as local authorities' strategic budget—that is, the resources that will be used to fund other housing providers in their areas.

Scottish Homes development funding is not used at present to fund local authority expenditure on its own stock, and quite rightly so. Scottish ministers give local authorities the power to borrow to undertake capital expenditure on their own stock under other legislation.

Changing section 80 in the way that Fiona Hyslop suggests would be confusing and unhelpful. It would give the wrong messages to RSLs and councils by implying that Scottish ministers are prepared to contemplate Scottish Homes' development funding being siphoned off into expenditure on local authority stock. Amendment 176 would remove the reassurance that section 80 currently gives to RSLs and it would make it more difficult to contemplate a transfer of development funding to local authorities in the absence of whole stock transfer. I have received representations on that point.

Amendment 176 is completely unnecessary and I ask members to reject it.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

A part of the bill that I support gives strategic powers to local authorities. Development funding should follow that—especially in councils that ministers are confident could execute such powers fairly with the support of RSLs in their area.

I point out to Margaret Curran again that on 1999 figures, Angus Council has the lowest rents in Scotland. Tenants there have double-glazing and central heating. When the SNP inherited Angus Council, it had the second highest rents in Scotland. It now has the lowest.

There are good councils—I include some Labour councils—that are capable of responsibly managing development funding for their stock and other RSL stock. They might choose not to exercise that power; all amendment 176 would do is provide councils with the opportunity to exercise the power should they so wish.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 176 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 49

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Stevenson, Stewart, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gallie, Phil, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Harper, Robin, Sheridan, Tommy

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 31, Against 81, Abstentions 2.

Amendment 176 disagreed to.