§ Mr. Austin Mitchell
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much his Department(a) expects to spend in this financial year and (b) spend in (i) 2002–03 and (ii) 2003–04 on writing off overhanging debt for local authorities that transfer their housing; and from which budget this sum is allocated. 
§ Keith Hill
Payments to meet local authorities' overhanging debt are made where the value of the housing stock is less than a local authority's associated housing debt. It is estimated that if all the housing transfers programmed to transfer in 2004–05 secure a positive ballot and transfer this financial year then the 2004–05 provision for making Overhanging Debt payments of £616 million would be used in full. £548.2 million was paid in 2002–03 and £90.9 million in 2003–04. The payment reflects the liability the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister would otherwise have to pay continuing subsidy on a local authority's housing attributable debt. It is not possible to use this resource for capital purposes.