HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc222-4
4. Mr. A. Royle

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when his new mortgage option scheme will go ahead.

12. Mr. Murton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will now make a further statement on his discussions with representatives of the Building Societies Association regarding the mortgage option scheme.

26. Mr. Arthur Jones

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what is the reason for the delay in introducing the legislation to implement the mortgage option scheme which was first announced to Parliament on 1st March, 1966.

29. Mr. Allason

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he proposes to introduce legislation to implement the mortgage option scheme.

Mr. Greenwood

The building societies saw difficulties in the administration of the scheme originally announced in March, but in subsequent discussions with them and other mortgage agencies we have now evolved arrangements which will be easier for them to administer. I expect to introduce the necessary legislation in the near future.

Mr. Royle

Can the Minister tell the House why there has been this long delay since the original announcement on 1st March? The country is very shocked that yet another Government pledge has been broken. Will the right hon. Gentleman also explain how, when this new scheme comes forward, the building societies can possibly work it if even at the present rate of interest they are without funds?

Mr. Greenwood

As to the second point of the hon. Member's supplementary question, perhaps we had better wait for the report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on building societies. I do not think that there has been any unreasonable delay. The original proposals were extremely complicated and would have involved building societies in a great deal of work they felt unable to contemplate, During the months that have elapsed we have evolved a much simpler and, I think, more satisfactory system.

Mr. Murton

Does not this lay the Government open again to the same charge of too little and too late?

Mr. Greenwood

I do not think that there is any charge that the hon. Member would hesitate to make against the Government, but when he sees the Bill he will find that he is quite wrong.

Mr. Jones

Is the Minister aware of the uncertainty created in the house market generally by the substantial delay in the implementation of the Government's promise? Does he intend to do anything to reassure the building industry, and particularly the smaller house builders?

Mr. Greenwood

This has, perhaps, been one of the factors—there have been a number of factors—producing uncertainty, but we are in constant contact with the building industry, the building societies and local authorities, and I hope that any uncertainty will be allayed.

Mr. Allason

Is not this a very great change from the so-called scheme outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 1st March, in which he indicated just quick discussions with the building societies followed by a simple scheme, the second phase of which would come into operation early next year? Is not this a gigantic confidence trick?

Mr. Greenwood

This is a much simpler scheme, and I think that the hon. Gentleman will welcome it when the Bill finally appears, accompanied by a White Paper.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us on this side hope that the Bill will make this considerable reduction in interest rates apply to those with existing mortgages; and that, in that case, all the criticisms from hon. Gentlemen opposite will fall to the ground?

Mr. Greenwood

Yes, Sir. I am fully aware of that.

Mr. Rippon

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this legislation will be introduced before Christmas, and whether it will help with the deposit, which is one of the greatest difficulties for people at present?

Mr. Greenwood

I very much hope that the Bill will be introduced well before Christmas. As to the details, I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had better wait until the Bill is published.