asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what sums of money have been paid in interest payments, and how much money has been paid in capital redemption on the housing accounts by the small burghs, large burghs, counties and cities, respectively from the period 1945 until and including the current year.
Some of the information sought is not available, and some would involve a disproportionate effort to extract. I am circulating the readily available information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Does the Minister agree with my assessment that the amount of money spent on interest charges over the past 25 years is likely to have exceeded £1,000 million and that the money paid in interest charges is five times that which is paid as capital repayment? This immense sum has not bought a brick, a plank of wood or a tile towards the building of houses. Therefore will the hon. Gentleman institute an urgent inquiry into alternative methods of financing council house building?
I would not accept all the hon. Gentleman's figures, and in due course he will see the figures that I have given in the OFFICIAL REPORT. One of the major aims of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Bill is that the payment of interest, where it has fallen on the housing revenue account, will qualify as housing expenditure and will be eligible for subsidy. The subsidy will be responsive to changes in interest rate, which has not been the case up to now.
Since the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheatham (Mr Harold Lever) during the term of the Labour Government said that there was about £1,000 million of Scottish money in National Savings, on which there is a very meagre return of interest, will the Under-Secretary of State encourage the Scottish people to cease paying into National Savings and to use the money for building houses at a reasonable rate of interest?