HC Deb 07 March 1973 vol 852 cc381-2
2. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the number of general improvement area schemes and the total number of houses included in these schemes which were completed during 1972.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Paul Channon)

There are at present 580 general improvement areas in England and Wales. Work was completed on a total of 7,217 dwellings in these schemes in 1972.

Mr. Hardy

The hon. Gentleman's answer is unsatisfactory. Does he not agree that the position in the private rented sector is pitifully disappointing? Will he ensure that local authorities are given sufficient powers to ensure that a positive and imaginative approach can be pursued?

Mr. Channon

Naturally I am considering all these matters in our review of the improvement grant system. I am not sure that I would say that it is wholly unsatisfactory. There were three times as many completions in general improvement areas in 1972 as in 1971.

Mr. Wilkinson

May I suggest to my hon. Friend that the schemes far from being unsatisfactory have transformed the whole area of industrial Yorkshire, particularly in the West Riding wool textile district? If we have any complaint it is that these schemes will terminate too soon.

Mr. Channon

I am grateful for what my hon. Friend says. There is no question of terminating the general idea of general improvement areas. I am most anxious to encourage them even more strongly than at present.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the Brailsford Road general improvement area of my constituency the tenants of private landlords are absolutely fed up with the failure of private landlords to take part in the improvement of the area? They have come to me to complain about the lack of action of these private landlords. When the local authorities are taking action will the hon. Gentleman push private landlords to do the same?

Mr. Channon

The local authorities have many powers open to them. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman gets in touch with his corporation.

Mr. Sydney Chapman

Will my hon. Friend consider the possibility of encouraging local authorities to carry out the external works more quickly in general improvement areas? That will give encouragement to the residents to take up the opportunities open to them and thus make it more likely that the schemes will be expedited.

Mr. Channon

I will certainly consider my hon. Friend's suggestion.