HC Deb 12 November 1968 vol 773 cc184-5
26. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many representations he has received from mortgage payers who have found they are paying more after taking the option; what estimate he has made of the number or proportion of option mortgage payers to date who are worse off; and if he will now seek powers to enable them to opt out again.

Mr. MacColl

Representations to this effect have been received from some 250 people. I think that very few borrowers will be worse off.

When the scheme incorporated in the Housing Subsidies Act, 1967, was being drawn up, it was the view of the Government Departments and lending agencies concerned that the giving of repeated options would gravely interfere with the working of the scheme.

Mr. Roberts

Is my hon. Friend aware that I find those figures not only unbelievable but almost quite incredible? In a scheme of this type the aim should be to reduce mortgages, and make house purchase easier. It is intolerable that some people should be worse off after going into the scheme, and they must be given the opportunity, at an early date, to opt out if they want to.

Mr. MacColl

I think the real point is that 185,000 people have had an opportunity to become home owners which they would never otherwise have had but for this legislation.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Have not many of these people been lured and defrauded by the pamphlet put out by the hon. Gentleman's Department, and about which we warned him at the time of the last Finance Bill? The number of letters we then received on this subject was very many more than the very few referred to by the hon. Gentleman in his initial reply.

Mr. MacColl

We debated this on 23rd July, and I said then that in revising the pamphlet we were going to see how we could make it clearer.

Mr. Rippon

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that, whatever the numbers involved, all these people have been grossly misled by the Government, and the Government ought to do something to put the matter right?

Mr. MacColl

Nobody has been grossly misled. Some people have not understood a scheme which, in its early stages, is difficult to explain.