asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in view of the large number of marriages now taking place of men and women under 21 years of age, he will expedite the discussions being held between his Department and the Lord Chancellor to consider the possibility of local authorities being permitted to advance mortgages to those under 21 years of age who, having married, wish to purchase a house of their own.
Does not the Minister regard it as absurd that society approves of and encourages people to be married at 21 and does not permit them to own a house of their own? Would it not be a contribution to the stabilisation of young marriages if the steps suggested were taken? Would the right hon. Gentleman please understand that if any objections were forthcoming from lawyers it is more important to concern himself with the thousands of young marriages than it is to concern himself with the heirs to inherited wealth and with some people who may be affected by the change in the present rule?
I think that others beside my hon. Friend are concerned with this problem and there are some genuine issues at stake in deciding whether one should permit children to become mortgagors. If I understand the law aright, under Section 43 of the 1958 Act it is possible for a local council to adopt the devices now used by building societies, whereby money is advanced to someone else holding the legal estate on behalf of the infants. It would be untrue to give the impression that this could never be done in the case of people under 21. As to whether these devices are sufficient, on this I intend to wait until I get a collective body of evidence on which to decide.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a difficulty even when he accepts this guarantor system—that when the parent is himself trying to get a mortgage, the local authority will not accept a mortgage both from the parent and the infant?