§ Mr. Carter
Of some 60 potential housing action areas in Belfast, three have already been declared by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive with the consent of the Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland). A further 24 areas have been short-listed for declaration over the next two years. The Housing Executive will be responsible for most action areas, but there will also be significant housing association involvement.
§ Mr. Fitt
Will my hon. Friend tell the House what specific features are 1724 required to be presented before an area can be declared a housing action area? Is he satisfied that the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is aware of the urgency of the problem and that it has the resources to use in those areas?
In looking at this matter, will my hon. Friend give an assurance to the House and assure himself that in an area in Belfast where there are perfectly good houses in existence which have recently been renovated, such as those in Hamill Street, they will not be demolished to make way for a roadway?
§ Mr. Carter
We are currently going through a public inquiry on the subject of roadways, and it would not be right for me to make any comment on the last point. As to the awareness of the Housing Executive of the problems of housing in Belfast, my hon. Friend must know that the Housing Executive, the Department and the Administration are more aware than anyone. My hon. Friend might be aware that, in order to heighten the public awareness of these problems, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State came with me to the worst areas of Belfast earlier this week.
I assure my hon. Friend that we shall leave no stone unturned—[Interruption.] That was perhaps an inappropriate remark. One of the unfortunate things about housing in Belfast is that so much of it is now one stone piled upon another. But we shall do all we possibly can not only to preserve decent housing but also to replace the deplorable stock of bad housing which continues to exist in Belfast.