Wednesday, 14 May 2008

House rules

Housing soared up the political agenda as prices rose and has remained there as prices fall. "We can't know how bad it can get" as the English Housing Minister put it.

Devolution means different responses in different parts of the UK. In the week Gordon Brown unveiled plans to increase shared equity schemes and buy unsold homes to rent them to tenants, the Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy presented to Parliament an order to allow the Welsh Assembly Government to suspend the sale of council houses.

Older readers may remember Mr Murphy's view on this Legislative Competence Order (LCO) when it was mooted last year. This is what he told the Welsh Grand Committee in December:

"I think that, overwhelmingly, most LCOs, when they come here, will be passed without too much fuss. However, there may be occasions when things are a bit more controversial, and I will cite two LCOs as examples.

"I think that the LCO that deals with the ending of the sale of council houses will produce controversy. For the past two decades in Wales, the fact that houses have been sold by local authorities has meant that people in Wales, by becoming home owners, have improved their lot.

"There are areas of housing need that we must be careful about, and the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy touched on one or two of those issues today. However, a warning shot should be sent by those of us who represent constituencies that have traditionally contained a large proportion of council houses."

Perhaps the warning shot missed its target or has Mr Murphy shot himself in the foot?

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