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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Plan to extend 'right to buy'
Council housing
Thatcher introduced the council house 'right to buy'
Plans to extend the right to buy would be extended to housing association residents under the Tories, the party's conference has been told.

Local government and regions spokesman David Davis said housing associations would be forced to sell properties to residents at knock-down prices.

It's a lottery because if they had been offered a council house they would have had that right

David Davis
Cash raised from the sales would then be pumped back into building new social housing, Mr Davis said.

The plan is the latest of 25 new policies being promised by the Tory leadership at the party conference in Bournemouth.

Mr Davis, seen as a potential future rival to leader Iain Duncan Smith after he was moved from the job of party chairman earlier this year, urged Conservatives to remain united in the fight against Labour.

He said Labour was regarded by some as finished in 1992: "We all know what happened next. So now is not the time for us to lose heart. But for people to believe in us, we must believe in ourselves."

Mr Davis said the "right to buy", introduced by Margaret Thatcher for council tenants in the 1980s, had transformed the lives of some of the least well-off in society.

He said: "But it took control away from politicians. That's why the Labour Party has always hated it. So it's no surprise that now they want to end it."

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott signalled plans to restrict the right to buy for council homes in some areas.

Opposition

He said the rights to buy may be halted in some areas of London and the South East.

Davis accepts there will be opposition to his plan
He said the scheme was undermining attempts to provide social housing in those areas - and pointed to the way the last Conservative government had exempted some rural areas from the right to buy.

But the Tories believe that although the number of low-rent homes would fall under their plans, more would be available to new tenants.

Mr Davis said there was a shortage of low cost housing because Labour councils had left many council properties empty.

The Tories accept there will be opposition to his plans from housing associations, but believes they will be backed by tenants.

"More than a million residents of housing associations have no right to buy," he said.

Lottery

"It's a lottery because if they had been offered a council house they would have had that right. That must change. That will change.

John Prescott
Prescott signalled changes to "right to buy" last week
"The contrast with Labour could not be more stark. They want to take away the right to buy. We want to extend it.

"They want to see fewer homeowners. We want to see more."

Speaking before his speech, Mr Davis said that at present only some housing association properties are available to new tenants.

Detailed plans

But under his plans all homes built with the proceeds of sales would be available for new tenants.

He said those living in housing association properties were not necessarily those who needed subsidised housing.

He said discounts to those buying their homes would be limited and there would be repayments if homes were sold on within three years.

Mr Davis said he would publish a detailed consultation paper on the plans on Monday.

'Sprawl'

In his conference speech he also attacked Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and his "nightmare" plan for regional assemblies.

New Labour's politicians are Britain's new elite. The people who know what's best for you

David Davis
He said the policy would take power away from communities by scrapping county councils.

He said Mr Prescott was taking decisions about planning away from councils, with plans for thousands of acres of countryside to be transformed into "urban sprawl".

He said Labour's instinct was to control - "to keep you dependent, to keep you in your place.

"New Labour's politicians are Britain's new elite. The people who know what's best for you.

"Conservatives take the opposite view. We want to see people given control over their own lives."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mark Mardell reports
"The Conservatives say they would plough money back into new houses for the homeless"
 VOTE RESULTS
Conservative Conference: Can they reverse the decline?

Yes
 41.39% 

No
 58.61% 

2225 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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See also:

30 Sep 02 | Politics
18 Jul 02 | Politics
16 Jul 02 | Business
15 Jul 02 | Politics
03 Oct 02 | Business

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