It looks a strong political scoop for the South London Press, whose interview with Hughes could well create some waves at Westminster. The Hughes interview is not yet online, but the South London Press have splashed today's weekend print edition on the interview with chief reporter Greg Truscott, under the front-page headline:
'END RIGHT TO BUY'
MP's radical solution to housing crisis
Hughes' proposal is that localism could mean councils deciding that the right to buy was not right for their area, if facing acute shortages of housing stock.
The South London Press quotes Hughes saying this in the interview:
"The local housing authority should be free to say that they are not going to grant the Right to Buy, just as the Welsh have done.
I represent a constituency with more council tenants than anywhere else in England. We have lost thousands of homes and we can not afford to lose more.
Right to Buy was a Tory policy and I accept it would be difficult to agree a national policy. But the Conservatives are signed up, like us, to give more power to local councils and it could give them the right to say no to 'right to buy' when there is a desperate shortage of rented accomodation".
Hughes is aware of the totemic status of 'right to buy' as a symbol of the Thatcher government. So his comments may well exacerbate existing arguments over several different housing policies, as Hughes repeats his concerns about the impact of the government's proposed cuts in housing benefit.
The strength of Hughes' concern over David Cameron's tenure proposals surely reflects the importance of social housing in his own constituency. However, Downing Street suggest the measure could be legislated for as early as this Autumn with Nick Clegg's support.
Conservatives are likely to want to defend right to buy from Hughes' localist challenge.
Yet, perhaps ironically, David Cameron's own proposals to remove security of tenure could well lead to the right to buy being lost or weakened, albeit by the back door. Tenants need to have five years residency to be eligible, so if fixed term tenancies were of a shorter length, the right would be lost by those tenants. And part of the point of the Cameron approach is for council housing to be still more focused on those in greatest need. If the result was to residualise council housing further predominantly among those out-of-work, then the right to buy will be rather more hypothetical anyway if fewer social housing tenants could afford to exercise it.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has been among those to acknowledge the social consequences of not replenishing council housing stock sold to tenants, in an interview last year with Fabian Review.
As The Telegraph reported
Getting the economy back to a point where it was profitable and we had some sort of enterprise was [vital].
"But yes, what happened next was in some ways [unfortunate]. We forgot that, while the economy was moving on, society itself was not really ready for this. Swathes of the population got left behind in the process ...The gap between the bottom socio-economic group and the rest started to grow, and it's grown ever since. Under Labour it's grown almost faster in some senses.
"While I'm not going to point the finger and say the changes made in the Eighties were wrong, we didn't have any real sense of where this might go and what needed to happen. Big social reforms should have taken place then, and they never did."
Duncan Smith also questions some aspects of the great council house sell-offs - which was considered one of Mrs Thatcher's greatest initiatives. He said what was needed was to invest the profits made into social housing.
He said: "Nobody really thought about what happens if you allow only the most broken families to exist on housing estates. You create a sort of ghetto in which the children who grow up there repeat what they see around them."