HC Deb 05 May 1971 vol 816 cc1351-3
7. Mr. Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has in mind for encouraging wider use of house improvement grants in the private sector; and if, in particular, he will examine ways of making local authority and building society loans more readily available to help private householders to improve the non-grant element of house improvement costs.

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

We have just launched a campaign of national and local publicity to encourage more improvement and my right hon. Friend has recently removed the limit on the amount local authorities may lend for house purchase and improvement. We are in touch with the building societies about ways in which they might help.

Mr. Gray

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he make quite sure that this publicity is continued, because many people want to become owner-occupiers? Therefore, the more publicity which can be given to the facilities which are available, the better.

Mr. Younger

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I think that the grants given under the 1969 Act for house improvement are very generous, and I hope that they will be made use of by as many people as possible.

Mr. Carmichael

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that while we are always interested to have a visit from an Under-Secretary at Woodside, it was considered just a little blatant for him to be there the day before the municipal elections to open some houses very much involved with some of the local councillors? We are, and will be, delighted with any measrures which are taken to improve and build upon the Labour Government's Act for the improvement of old property.

Mr. Younger

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support for what we are trying to do. It simply never occurred to me that there was any political connection whatever in that occasion.

9. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of house improvement grants approved since June, 1970; and what was the number approved in the comparable period prior to that date.

Mr. Younger

In the nine months to the end of March, 1971, improvement grants were approved for 16,031 houses. In the nine months to the end of March, 1970, 13,517 grants were approved.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is the kind of progress which we expect from the Government, and that this is a very important field in which to develop and expand this good work?

Mr. Younger

I thank my hon. Friend. It certainly is something which we are anxious to expand in every way we can.

Mr. David Steel

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the upward movement in the figures is very gratifying and that we hope that they will accelerate upwards still further as a result of the publicity campaign which he mentioned earlier? Will he make effective use of television, in particular, in this campaign?

Mr. Younger

We shall be using all forms of media, including particularly the local Press, which provides very wide and effective coverage for this purpose.