HC Deb 07 May 1968 vol 764 cc200-1
12. Mr. Tom Boardman

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what are the latest figures for the number of people who have taken advantage of the option mortgage scheme, expressed as a percentage of existing and new borrowers.

Mr. MacColl

According to the latest information from the 10 largest building societies, over 10 per cent. of their new borrowers are choosing option mortgages; about 4 per cent. of the existing borrowers who had to make their decision by 31st December, 1967, changed to option mortgages.

Mr. Boardman

Do not these figures mean that 96 per cent. of all existing borrowers and 90 per cent. of all new borrowers see no advantage in the option mortgage scheme and that even those who have taken it up are, due to high prices and interest rates, paying significantly more than in October, 1964?

Mr. MacColl

I do not share the hon. Gentleman's premise. The object of the scheme was to make available home ownership to people of moderate incomes, particularly young families, who could not otherwise take advantage of loans. The scheme has worked in this very important sector.

Mr. Barnett

Why will my right hon. Friend not extend the date by which mortgage payers with existing mortgages can opt for the option mortgage scheme?

Mr. MacColl

There are difficulties about varying the dates. For administrative reasons, it has not proved possible to do this in all cases, except in those where there is hardship.

Mr. Graham Page

But why alter the date? This is a once-for-all decision. The Government are changing the rules in the middle of the game by Clause 14 of the Finance Bill in relation to child allowances. Does not this put those who have opted in a worse position? Is not this cheating them?

Mr. MacColl

When the scheme was being prepared, we went carefully into the possibilities of giving opportunities to change and it was found that administrative difficulties—not ours but those of the lenders, who have to operate the scheme—made it very difficult to do.