Local Government Asset Sales

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-07-15
Session date: 
July 15, 2015
Reference: 
2015/2220
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Tom Copley
Category: 

Question

Given the Government's proposals to force London's local authorities to sell high value assets, do you think the revenue generated should be hypothecated for building homes in the capital?

Answer

Answer for Local Government Asset Sales

Answer for Local Government Asset Sales

Answered By: 
Tom Copley

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Tom.  I am indeed supportive of this policy but I have made clear that the receipts from the council house sales as well as the right-to-buy sales should stay in London.  If a council home is sold or a housing association property is sold, then that should lead to the creation of two new homes in each case. 

Tom Copley AM:  I am pleased to hear you say that you want any receipts to be retained in London.  Are you aware of the fact that last year over £90 million - are you paying attention, Mr Mayor - from council house sale receipts were siphoned off by HM Treasury?  None of that stayed in London.  It went to HM Treasury and was placed in the general pot of funding.  Would you agree with me that that money should be returned to Londoners and to local authorities so that they can help to replenish the homes that have been sold? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Where you are right is to say that the receipts from these sales should stay in London because that is where the crisis is. 

Tom Copley AM:  Would you support the Government returning the £90 million that it took from right-to‑buy sales last year? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I certainly think that housebuilding in London needs to be properly funded. 

Tom Copley AM:  That was not quite, with respect, the question that I asked.  The question that I asked was whether you would support the return of the £90 million of receipts that was taken from Londoners last year.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I certainly think that the receipts from - and I have answered the question - sales in London should stay in London and housebuilding in London should be properly funded. 

Tom Copley AM:  Specifically the receipts from not just the future sales that are coming up, but should the previous receipts come back? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  All these sums are fungible.  I want to see London housebuilding properly funded by the Government. 

Tom Copley AM:  You say all those things are fundable, Mr Mayor.  I am still not ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Fungible, I said, yes. 

Tom Copley AM:  Fungible?  I am sorry.  I am still not quite clear whether or not you want that £90 million returned.  This is £90 million from sales of London council homes ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You might as well ask ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  ‑‑ that has been sent to HM Treasury.  Should it come back? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  As far as I can remember, the Labour Party took colossal sums from the sales of council homes and did absolutely nothing to return them, something for which you have asked.   More specifically, the Labour Party--

Tom Copley AM:  Mr Mayor, I am asking you a very specific question about the funding from the previous year.  Will you stand up for Londoners?  Will you write to the Housing Minister and ask that this £90 million, which could be used for affordable housing in London, is returned to Londoners?  Will you do that? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  If you will now apologise for the receipts from council house sales in London that the Labour Government did not ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  I am terribly sorry, Mr Mayor.  I cannot apologise for something I was not responsible for. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I see.  Actually, you can because you called previously ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  What I can ask you to do, Mr Mayor ‑‑

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Stop it. 

Tom Copley AM:  ‑‑ is to actually stand up for Londoners and to ask for this money to be returned. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  As I have said, what you are asking for is essentially meaningless.  What I want to see is housebuilding in London properly funded. 

Tom Copley AM:  Meaningless?  I do not think Londoners who are sitting on housing waiting lists will see £90 million for new housebuilding as meaningless, Mr Mayor, but clearly that is your view. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, I want far more than £90 million.  The point you are making is meaningless.  What we want is to ensure that homebuilding in London is properly funded and that receipts from sales in this city stay in this city. 

Tom Copley AM:  Can I turn to the four red lines that you have set out in relation to this policy on housing associations and council house sales?  You have said your red lines are: that the money raised should be spent in Greater London; the policy must preserve mixed communities; the policy must have no detrimental impact on housing supply; and it must have no detrimental impact on affordable housing supply.  If, when the Housing Bill is presented to Parliament, it does not satisfy your red lines, will you vote against it? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is a work in progress and I will continue to negotiate with --

Tom Copley AM:  It is a work in progress, Mr Mayor, but I am asking you to imagine a hypothetical situation in which one or more of your red lines have not been satisfied.  Given these are red lines, will you then vote against the bill and stand up for Londoners? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.  I will, I am sure, be able to get a policy that makes good sense for our city--

Tom Copley AM:  If you cannot, will you stand up for Londoners and vote against the bill? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is not a hypothesis I am willing to contemplate and there is every reason to be confident and to be optimistic about this.  Are you in favour of allowing people the right to buy? 

Tom Copley AM:  I just want to finish there but, Chair, can I just offer a point of clarification?  Is this session called Mayor’s Question Time or Assembly Members’ Question Time? 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Come on.  Would you vote for the right to buy or not? 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, I am glad you made that clarification, Mr Copley, because your question was about his role in another place. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You do not want to answer it?  Fine.  I am just giving you the opportunity.  If you do have an idea in your head, this is your chance to show that you can think. 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  I will have fewer questions about his role in another place and more questions about his role as the Mayor of London.  Do you have another question? 

Tom Copley AM:  I have finished now anyway, Chair. 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.   

Tom Copley AM:  That is me told, is it not?