HC Deb 17 March 1976 vol 907 cc1302-3
5. Mr. Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will pay an official visit to Preston to discuss house building prospects over the next three years.

Mr. Freeson

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to visit Preston. I will, however, be visiting the Northwest Region later this year as part of my programme of visits to discuss housing programmes and policies with local authorities throughout England.

Mr. Thorne

In what way will the public expenditure cuts affect the slum clearance programme of the Preston District Council?

Mr. Freeson

In no way. There is no reason to believe that the recently published White Paper proposals should affect Preston's or any other local authority's plans. There is no ceiling on local authority new building construction. Indeed, the programme about which Preston has informed my Department recently shows a marked increase in housing activities in the next three years over the last three to four years.

Mr. Raison

How can the hon. Gentleman square that answer with the fact that in the White Paper on Local Government Expenditure in England and Wales there is a figure showing a reduction of £300 million in capital spending on housing in the coming year?

Mr. Freeson

It excludes new house building.

Mr. Loyden

If my hon. Friend finds the time to go to Preston, will he also call into the Garston constituency and have a look at the housing estate at Netherley, where there is blatant evidence of substandard building by private enterprise from which tenants have been suffering since that estate was built?

Mr. Freeson

I have no present plans so to do, but if my hon. Friend cares to put any particular points to me on which he thinks I might be able to assist, he is welcome to write to me about them.