§ 16. Mr. Bidwell
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to obtain from the building societies the number of first-time borrowers in the Greater London Council area earning under £35 a week who got mortgages in the first quarter of 1972, and the percentage of all mortgages given in the Greater London Council area this represents.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Reginald Eyre)
I regret the information is not available in the form requested. But in the first quarter of 1972, it is estimated that 8,000 mortgages, or 59 per cent. of all mortgages granted by building societies in the Greater London area, went to first-time purchasers.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I, too, regret that the information is not available along the lines sought. Does the Minister agree that it becomes a wicked mockery for a Conservative Government to keep nagging people such as those who live in my constituency and in the rest of London about taking out mortgages to 412 buy property when their incomes make it impossible because of the astronomical level of property prices in the London area. All hon. Members will be familiar with the number of people who bring this problem along to their surgeries week after week. They cannot be considered properly for a house on the council list and they cannot be successfully considered for the private property market. When will the Minister do something about it?
§ Mr. Eyre
Greater London presents special difficulties to first-time purchasers because of the price of property there. The Nationwide Building Society information is most relevant to the question, in that it shows that 22 per cent. of the society's mortgages in London and the South-East went to borrowers with incomes of up to £35 a week.
§ Mr. Ashton
Is it not time the Minister got tough with the building societies and insisted, particularly for young couples of 18 and 19 who are now able under the law to take out a mortgage, that 100 per cent. mortgages for 30 or 40 years should be granted? Why does the Minister leave it to the building societies instead of taking action himself?
§ Mr. Eyre
First, the building societies have been extremely helpful through the mortgage option schemes, where there is a considerable increase in the numbers of 100 per cent. loans given to the very categories of people about whom the hon. Member is concerned. Furthermore, the figures that I quoted excluded local authority mortgages, and at least 30 per cent. of those are 100 per cent. loans.