HC Deb 23 July 1973 vol 860 cc1139-40
11. Mr. Probert

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will authorise improvement grants towards the cost of installing central heating in houses occupied by the elderly.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Improvement grants are already given for installing full central heating in old people's dwellings owned by local authorities, housing associations, charitable trusts and similar bodies. In other dwellings, grant towards the cost of space heating up to Parker Morris standard can be given when this forms part of a scheme for the comprehensive improvement of a dwelling.

Mr. Probert

While accepting that local authorities and housing associations have Government assistance to provide this heating in accommodation for elderly people, does not the Minister think it unjust that elderly people who occupy and own their own houses and are not in a position to provide the finances necessary to install central heating, even where the houses comply with the 12 necessary factors to attract improvement grants, are unable to do so because of the present situation? Will the hon. Gentleman look into this matter and remedy what I consider to be a wholly unjust situation?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

This is a complicated and difficult matter because whereas it is possible to ensure that council houses, where the installation of full central heating has been grant-aided, continue to be occupied by elderly people, this cannot be done where the house is privately owned. This, therefore, presents a formidable difficulty to the Government.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Can the hon. Gentleman say what machinery, if any, exists in the Welsh Office to bring home to local authorities their duties and their statutory obligations towards elderly people? Can he say whether the Welsh Office has taken any initiative in this matter? Does he appreciate that the problem is far more acute in Wales than it is in the rest of the United Kingdom because we have a far higher proportion on average of elderly people in Wales?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

There are, indeed, a large number of circulars and communications which the Welsh Office sends and has sent to local authorities. If it is possible, I will get the list and let the hon. Gentleman have it.