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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that some crofters are being required to deposit about £300 before being allowed to build new houses with grant and loan aid from his Department; that this is discouraging some of those most in need of new homes; and whether he will reduce by half the amount required to be deposited.
Each application is dealt with on its merits, and my right hon. Friend regrets that he cannot lay down any general rule in this matter. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that no unnecessary difficulties are placed in the way of the crofters.
Is the Minister aware that it is an unnecessary difficulty to place in a man's way if he cannot afford to produce £300 for the deposit and is therefore unable to build his house, which everyone wants him to build? It is a question of the replacement of houses which are no longer fit for habitation. Is the Minister aware that a man can get 90 per cent. of the deposit from a private building society? In those circumstances, why does his Department hold out for £300 in the case of a house which probably costs about £1,000 to £1,700?
It is seldom that as much as £300 is asked, although it sometimes is. There is no evidence that this practice of asking for a deposit, which was forced upon the Department by experience, has, in fact, discouraged crofters from seeking these facilities.