HC Deb 23 June 1971 vol 819 cc1406-7
11. Mr. Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of house improvement grants approved to date in 1971; and what was the number of approvals for the corresponding period of 1970.

The Under-Secretary of State for Development, Scottish Office (Mr. George Younger)

In the first quarter of 1971 grants were approved for 5,733 houses, compared with 5,179 in the first quarter of 1970.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those figures, which are pretty satisfactory. Will he press on with these schemes and make sure that householders know that improvement grants are available, because there is a lot of ignorance about them?

Mr. Younger

I thank my hon. Friend for what he said. I think he will agree with me that yesterday's announcement by my right hon. Friend of increased grants, which will enable a private owner to have as much as £1,800 or three-quarters of the cost, whichever is the less, will be a great stimulus to this most important part of our housing policy.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that we agree that the programme needs stimulating, in view of the disappointing figures? Will he give us a breakdown of the grants as they apply to owner-occupied, private tenancy and local authority houses?

Mr. Younger

If the hon. Gentleman will put down a detailed Question, I shall be happy to provide that information. If he thinks that these figures are disappointing, he may like to know that, since the publicity campaign which I launched two months ago, we have had no fewer than 2,800 inquiries from people wishing to take advantage of these grants. In addition, the greatly increased money which is available as from today should be a powerful stimulus.

Mr. David Steel

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the rate of take-up of improvement grants by local authorities?

Mr. Younger

The fairest answer I can give is that the take-up is rather patchy. Many local authorities are doing very well, but a number are unnecessarily reluctant about taking advantage of the grants.