HC Deb 16 November 1972 vol 846 cc584-5
2. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his proposals to assist persons in Belfast who are unable to obtain building society loans because of the troubles; and if he will authorise the Housing Executive to commence a large-scale scheme whereby they purchase houses which the occupants have been unable to sell, and let them out to suitable tenants.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Mills)

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive intends to introduce a scheme within the next few weeks for granting loans for house purchases. This should help people who are unable to obtain building society loans.

An inter-departmental working party has been examining the possibility of aiding owner-occupiers who, because of the disturbances in certain areas, are unable to sell their houses. My right hon. Friend hopes to have its report shortly.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Is the Minister of State aware that his reply will be broadly welcomed? One hopes that the scheme will be pressed on speedily.

Mr. Peter Mills

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for saying that. Certainly we are seeking to do something in this matter. I am pleased to say that for owner who cannot sell their properties not only is the Housing Executive seeking to buy up some of their houses; they will give help with the cost of purchasing their houses, including agents' fees and legal fees, where appropriate.

Mr. Pounder

I thank my hon. Friend for a very helpful answer. Where the mortgagors have left because they have been intimidated, or whatever, there is no point in repossessing the property and trying to sell it. One is faced with the problem of getting rid of the property. Can the scheme be extended so that the building societies can be assisted by the Housing Executive in taking up these properties?

Mr. Peter Mills

It is true that the building societies have been most helpful in very difficult circumstances. While I am not now in a position to answer my hon. Friend's question, I will look into it and see whether the building societies can be assisted in that way.