HC Deb 04 February 1987 vol 109 cc986-7
5. Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what information is available to council tenants and local authorities concerning the work of estate action, the urban housing renewal unit.

Mr. John Patten

We have put out massive amounts of information—films, booklets, and reports. No authority has any excuse for not knowing what help is on offer. If any council, or any tenant, wants to know more, let me know and my Department will be in touch immediately.

Mr. Howarth

In commending my hon. Friend for the operation of the scheme, may I remind him that, thanks to a £307,000 grant, the Rawnsley estate in my constituency has benefited to the extent of 72 properties? Will he look favourably on phase 2, which I understand is to be examined next week by my hon. Friend's officials to complete the properties? Will he tell the House whether the transfer of these properties into private ownership is to be encouraged under the scheme?

Mr. Patten

I am glad that my hon. Friend is pleased about the way in which estate action has been able to help in the Cannock chase area. Nationally, this year we shall have helped, through estate action, more than 100,000 people, in 53,000 homes, to live in better conditions. I shall look with interest at the advice I receive from my officials—as always dispassionate advice—about my hon. Friend's constituency and its problems.

Mr. Madden

The activities of estate action are welcome. However, does the Minister accept that people in Bradford who are in desperate housing need wonder why the Government have refused the city council permission to borrow more to build homes and to use capital receipts for building purposes. They are bewildered as to why the Government have cut housing improvement grants to enable improvement and renovation to take place. Will the Minister give information about Government policy, which is stopping the city of Bradford from tackling its housing crisis?

Mr. Patten

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome for the work that estate action is doing. That is a good sign of all-party consensus. I know that it is shared by bodies such as the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. Bradford's problems are not necessarily cured by releasing large sums of money. We need to ensure that the money is spent well, and that is precisely what estate action is doing.