HC Deb 15 March 1972 vol 833 cc515-6
8. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications have been received to date for house improvement grants in the Lanarkshire County Council area.

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

Up to the end of 1971 grants had been approved covering about 3,000 houses. I am asking the county council to write to the hon. Gentleman about numbers of applications.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my information is that most of these applications are coming from owner-occupiers? Is he satisfied that enough landlords are endeavouring to do what they should be doing—bringing houses up to tolerable standards? If they are not, will he ensure that plenty of publicity is given to it?

Mr. Younger

I agree about the importance of publicity. The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Scottish Office mounted its biggest ever publicity campaign on this matter last year. The proportions of the figures I have given are about 1,200 private houses and 1,800 public sector houses, of which about 1,500 are owned by county councils and about 300 by the Scottish Special Housing Association. I agree that we should do all we can to encourage more private owners to improve their houses.

Mr. Brewis

Will my hon. Friend look into the case of a number of authorities in Central Scotland which refuse to give housing improvement grants, and see whether he can make the grants mandatory?

Mr. Younger

I would be reluctant at this stage to make them mandatory, as a lot of local conditions have to be taken into account in assessing whether grants should be undertaken. I agree that it is a great pity that some local authorities are reluctant to make the grants but I think that this practice is gradually getting less and less.

Mr. Lawson

Has the hon. Gentleman any idea of the average amount of money spent on these houses?

Mr. Younger

Not without notice.