HC Deb 16 February 1977 vol 926 cc490-2
19. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next plans to meet the Building Societies Association.

Mr. Shore

I had an informal meeting with some of the leaders of the Building Societies Association on 26th January. I am ready to meet them again whenever the need arises.

Mr. McCrindle

I welcome the recent improvement in the inflow of funds to the building societies, but does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if the first six weeks of 1977 are anything to go by, there will still be serious difficulties in obtaining a mortgage in 1977? Will he say what effect he thinks that is likely to have on housing policy in general and on the building industry in particular?

Mr. Shore

I endorse the hon. Gentleman's words about welcoming the inflow of funds. He asks me, on the basis of the first six weeks of this year, to take a view about the inflow of funds a little later on. It is a little early to do so, but my hope and belief are that we shall see a return, as it were, to the far more normal inflow of funds that we experienced in 1976 and earlier. If that is so, as I hope it will be, I have no doubt that it will give considerable encouragement to the private house building sector.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

When my right hon. Friend sees the Building Societies Association will he tell it to stop the practice of red-lining certain districts, which is distasteful to many people in the inner cities, particularly the immigrants living there?

Mr. Shore

I agree with my hon. Friend about the undesirability of the practice of red-lining. We have made plain to the building societies our concern about this. In particular cases they have followed through our representations to them, and I believe that effective action has been taken. I am fully aware that there are still, and will continue to be, reports of such practices. I hope that they will be sent to me so that I can take them up with the building societies.

Mr. Stephen Ross

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress on the Building Societies Association that, as soon as funds permit, one of its first priorities must be to get interest rates down, which are usurious at 12¼ and 12½ per cent. in the case of the Halifax Building Society?

Mr. Shore

It would be most welcome if we could get mortgage lending rates down. That would give great satisfaction to everyone, but I believe that the prior need is to restore the inflow of funds to societies.