§ Mr. Stratton Mills
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to accelerate the improvement of substandard conditions in housing in Northern Ireland, particularly having regard to the recent conference of the Association of Public Health Inspectors, where it was stated that more than 100,000 houses are in a substandard condition, and urgent action was called for, particularly in the field of increased and more flexible improvement grants.
§ Mr. David Howell
My right hon. Friend is aware of the need to improve substandard houses. In order to obtain more precise information on which to base a programme to deal with the problem the Ministry of Development has arranged for the Housing Executive to carry out a sample survey with the assistance of public health inspectors.
Many of the substandard houses in Northern Ireland are privately rented and subject to rent control. A committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Sir Robert Porter to review the rent restriction law which landlords regard as not 516W offering sufficient incentive for them to carry out improvements.
The operation of the improvement grant scheme and the level of grants will be kept under review.