HC Deb 28 March 1973 vol 853 cc1301-2
28. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many homes have been improved as a result of qualifying for the discretionary home improvement grant.

Mr. Channon

This information is not available in the form requested. Between 1949 and the end of 1972 discretionary grants were approved for a total of 1,138,000 dwellings in England and Wales.

Mr. Spriggs

Has the Minister any figures to show how many applications were rejected because local authorities have produced their own rules under the discretionary scheme, thus thwarting the opportunities of many thousands of people living in overcrowded conditions? Will the hon. Gentleman consider this matter? If I provide him with copies of the new rules produced by my own local authority will he say whether they are legal?

Mr. Channon

I shall be glad to consider any evidence that the hon. Gentleman wishes to put forward, and I am glad to have his support for the improvement grant scheme. However, I must tell him that it is believed in many quarters of the House that local authorities should have more rather than less discretion.

Mr. Kinsey

May I draw the Minister's attention to another anomaly in the discretionary grant system? Is he aware that although the occupiers of pre-war houses may apply for grants for modernisation purposes, and tenants who purchase may receive modernisation grants, existing municipal tenants who wish to modernise on their own are denied grants? Is that what the Government intend?

Mr. Channon

I am not sure that I entirely follow my hon. Friend's point. Perhaps I may consider the specific matter he has in mind. May I ask him to write to me on the point?

Mr. Blenkinsop

Does the Minister agree that we have now got into a legal and administrative tangle on this subject, and that it is causing a great deal of worry to many people? We have entered into a good deal of correspondence about this matter. Will the hon. Gentleman help to sort it out?

Mr. Channon

I am sorry to hear that the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Act passed by a Labour Government is so unsatisfactory, but naturally we shall look into the matter.