HC Deb 27 November 1978 vol 959 cc85-6W
Mr. McCusker

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress, if any, has been made in reducing the public debt in Northern Ireland with respect to housing, electricity and gas during 1978.

Mr. Concannon:

Public debt in respect of housing, electricity and gas increased by about £.9 million, or 8 per cent. between 1st January and 30th September 1978. Much of this increase was in electricity debts and partly caused by price increases. There are some encouraging signs: there has been a slowing down in the rate of growth of electricity and gas debt, the level of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive's rent debt is decreasing as a proportion of collectable rental income, and the number of rent debtors entering into voluntary agreements has arisen. But the Government are far from satisfied, and determined to give full support to the relevant public bodies in continuing to improve the effectiveness of their efforts to ensure that debts are paid.