HL Deb 09 March 1978 vol 389 cc1010-1

7.28 p.m.

Lord MELCHETT rose to move, That the draft Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1978, laid before the House on 9th February, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this order will extend to Northern Ireland the option mortgage scheme which was introduced in Great Britain in 1968. Under the scheme, people will have the option of paying a lower rate of interest on their mortgage if they do not receive any income tax relief on their repayments of interest. This will allow a borrower who pays little or no income tax to receive the same benefits as someone on a higher income who borrows the same amount. The scheme should help more people in Northern Ireland to own their own home.

The order will also phase out the Private Enterprise Subsidy and the Housing on Farms Grant. Although there has been some criticism in Northern Ireland of this proposal, the Government are satisfied that the present schemes should go—they are no longer a significant incentive to encourage new building and are basically unsatisfactory, as they give assistance to all regardless of need. Representations have been made about the need for some new incentive which would help first-time purchasers and encourage the building of more houses for sale at the lower end of the market, and the Government are now considering this.

I believe that the main provisions of this order will be welcomed in Northern Ireland. Any increase in home ownership will reduce the massive burden on the Housing Executive, and so enable it further to concentrate its efforts on those in greatest need. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1978, laid before the House on 9th February be approved.(Lord Melchett.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.