Mr. Wm. Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what further plans he has to deal with the problem created by sub-standard privately owned rented housing in rural areas of Northern Ireland, especially where the cost of providing mains electricity, gas and water is high.
§ Mr. Carter,
pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 21st November 1977],gave the following information:
I am concerned about the general problem of unfit and sub-standard housing in rural areas and a number of measures are being taken to deal with it, including the closure and replacement of unfit houses. In addition, under the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 grants, based generally on 75 per cent. of approved costs, are available for the improvement and repair of private sector dwellings including the installation of missing basic amenities. The grants are paid by the Housing Executive, were increased with effect from 1st September 1977 and as a rule are only available for works within the curtilage of a dwelling.
Water and sewerage services are provided by the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment in rural areas in so far as it is practicable at reasonable cost. Because of the nature of the gas grid, few rural connections are made and the major alternative is bottled gas. The percentage of rural properties in Northern 696W Ireland with electricity supply is estimated to be in excess of 90 per cent. All individual applications to the Northern Ireland Electricity Service for connections are considered on their merits.
I would also refer the hon. Member to the proposal for a draft rent order which will be published on 22nd November.