§ 17. Mr. Skinner
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will reconsider the allocation of money to Bolsover District Council for housing loan purposes, in view of the district council's policy of encouraging improvement grants for sub-standard properties.
§ Mr. Freeson
The arrangements announced on 6th April to provide greater flexibility in housing capital expenditure for 1977–78 will help the council to link its home loans and improvement grants policies more clearly together.
§ Mr. Skinner
That is a bit Irish. Is my right hon. Friend aware that it really means that last year the council received £238,000 for housing loans and that this year it will get exactly the same amount, not only for housing loans but for improvement grants? Will he tell his right hon. Friend, who described himself earlier as an attentive listener to calls for more public expenditure, that some of the £2½ billion that we have suddenly found we should not have cut from public expenditure ought to be used on housing in inner city areas, urban malaise areas, and urban stress areas—and some in Bolsover?
§ Mr. Freeson
I always hesitate to disagree with my hon. Friend but I am afraid that his facts are wrong. The allocation for home loans to Bolsover this year is higher than last year's figure of a little over £200,000. This year it will be £238,000, and in addition there will be an allocation of about £300,000—I am sorry, £30,000—for improvement grants. The total will be about £260,000.
I was not speaking Irish or any other language; I was making the point that if local authorities are enabled to switch from one Vote head to another during the year they will better be able to link improvement policy with home loans on older properties. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We must remember that this is the Mother of Parliaments, where some dignity should be preserved.