Building Societies Association (Agreement)

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1976.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Edinburgh Central 12:00 am, 21st January 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the operation of his recent agreement with the Building Societies Association.

Photo of Mr Hugh Brown Mr Hugh Brown , Glasgow Provan

The results available so far are disappointing. But the scheme has been operating for less than three months during the acknowledged quiet season for house purchase. I hope that the rate of successful loan applications will now increase significantly.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Edinburgh Central

Does my hon. Friend accept that those of us with constituents particularly affected by the restriction on local authority mortgages very much welcome the agreement that he has been able to reach with the building societies? Will he give an undertaking to press for a continuation of the agreement next year if, as seems likely, the restrictions on local authority loans continue? In the course of the negotiations will my hon. Friend undertake to consider the conditions of a mortgage under the agreement? Is he aware that there has been some criticism that the expectation of a 30-year future life for a dwelling house is over-restrictive and has excluded many houses that might have qualified for such a mortgage?

Photo of Mr Hugh Brown Mr Hugh Brown , Glasgow Provan

I am aware of the difficulties. This is one of the specific difficulties to which reference has been made. We have encouraged housing authorities to discuss it with building societies at local level. We hope that an availability of resources will be forthcoming from the building societies. We are having early meetings with them to discuss future operations as well as some of the difficulties arising out of our experience of the current scheme.

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh , Angus South

Is the Under-Secretary aware that the building societies take far more out of Scotland in the form of deposits and repayments than they ever put back in the form of mortgages? This means that many millions of pounds are leaving Scotland every year. Will he encourage United Kingdom building societies to invest more in Scotland, and especially for lower income groups and young married couples?

Photo of Mr Hugh Brown Mr Hugh Brown , Glasgow Provan

The tedious repetition of false statistics is in accordance with the Goebbels technique. The hon. Gentleman might not be aware that the Nation-wide Society, which I think is the largest in Scotland, has recently been pointing out that his contention is not the case as regards that society.

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh , Angus South

What about the others? The statistics came from a previous parliamentary answer.

Photo of Mr Hugh Brown Mr Hugh Brown , Glasgow Provan

The element that the hon. Gentleman deliberately ignores or distorts—this is why I accuse the SNP of not recognising the facts—is that home ownership in Scotland is at a much lower level than elsewhere. Therefore, the circumstances are entirely different.

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh , Angus South

That is the whole point.