HC Deb 09 February 1978 vol 943 cc1647-8
2. Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions since it was set up the Board of the Housing Executive has sought the advice of the Housing Council; and on how many of those occasions that advice has been accepted and acted upon.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ray Carter)

The Housing Council provides a valuable forum for the regular and frequent consultation on housing policies and problems between local elected representatives and the Housing Executive. It would be for them rather than the Government to provide details of the consultations that take place.

Mr. Ross

Is not the Minister aware that such consultations take place only very rarely? Is he further aware that the Housing Executive Board does not have to accept any recommendations made by the Housing Council? Does not this highlight the undemocratic nature of the board? Will he now take steps to increase the elected representation on the Housing Executive Board with a view to increasing the participation of people in the country in the Housing Executive Board?

Mr. Carter

Consultation means consultation. No other interpretation can be put on the relationship between the Housing Council and the Housing Executive Board. I must remind the hon. Member that the Housing Council has three representatives on the Housing Executive Board. I have not been led to believe that there is any difficulty. There is a good relationship between the Housing Council and the Housing Executive Board.

Mr. Kilfedder

What action does the hon. Gentleman intend to take to ensure fair play and civil rights for the Protestant communities in Northern Ireland who have been allocated only 34 per cent. of Housing Executive tenancies despite the fact that thousands of them are on waiting lists desperately seeking homes, particularly young people and especially in my constituency?

Mr. Carter

It is difficult to know how to respond to a question such as that which contains so much misleading information. Everybody in Northern Ireland—Protestant, Catholic or any other denomination—is treated fairly by the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive comes in for far more praise than criticism in Northern Ireland on that score.