HC Deb 08 June 1972 vol 838 cc683-5
9. Mr. Hugh D. Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the housing programme of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; how it compares with house completions in the public sector in the last five years, or any other comparable period; and if he will make a statement.

43. Dr. Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the target for house building in the public sector in Northern Ireland for the current year.

Mr. Channon

During 1965–70, 36,000 houses were completed in the public sector. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive's programme for 1970–75 is about 49,000 houses. The Housing Executive hopes to build 10,000 public sector houses in the current financial year.

Mr. Brown

I welcome the increased housing programme, but is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the local construction industry can meet the requirements of the programme? Will he see that the influence of the Housing Executive is used on local officials to ensure non-discrimination in the allocation of houses and the abolition of ghettoes based on sectarian beliefs?

Mr. Channon

I think there is no doubt that the local construction industry can complete the task which the Housing Executive has in mind. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the allocation of houses is done by a points system and I do not think there is any evidence of discrimination.

Mr. Kilfedder

My hon. Friend has mentioned the points system. Will he re-examine this system for the allocation of homes in Northern Ireland, because it is widely believed by a great many people there that it operates against the Protestant population because, generally speaking, Protestant families have a small number of children—an average of three—whereas Roman Catholic families have on average at least six children?

Mr. Channon

If my hon. Friend has any evidence that the points system is working unfairly, I should be grateful if he would draw it to my attention. I have found no one in Northern Ireland who has made that suggestion to me. Most people think that the system is one of the fairest that could be devised to allocate houses.

Dr. Miller

Is the hon. Gentleman telling us that there is a new method of allocating houses in Northern Ireland which is non-discriminatory compared with the old method, which was discriminatory? Is he saying that positive steps will be taken to ensure that ghettoes are not developed in the way they were developed in the past?

Mr. Channon

Regardless of allegations of discrimination in the past, the allocation of housing is nearly completely in the hands of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. This is an entirely new situation, and I have not had any substantial allegations of discrimination in the allocations.