House Purchase and Improvement Finance (Leeds)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1977.

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Photo of Mr Albert Roberts Mr Albert Roberts , Normanton 12:00 am, 16th March 1977

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration he will give to increasing the allocation of funds for house purchase and improvement loans to Leeds City Council for the year 1977–78.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

I can offer no immediate prospect of an increase in the mortgage lending quota for Leeds City Council.

Photo of Mr Albert Roberts Mr Albert Roberts , Normanton

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that Leeds is the second largest city in the country outside London with 30,000 low-value back-to-back houses in the inner city and that £59 per head is measly when the average location throughout the country is £200? Surely this is a situation that warrants a reconsideration of the position in Leeds.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

Yes, I am well aware of the figures that my hon. Friend has put before the House. As he knows, we have been in correspondence with the Leeds City Council. Population was not the only basis on which we made the allocation. We are concerned that when money is lent by the local authority it should go to the priority categories—for example, those who are at the lower end of the market and those who want to buy older property. These are the people who are least able to get loans from building societies.

Photo of Sir Brandon Rhys Williams Sir Brandon Rhys Williams , Kensington and Chelsea Kensington

Instead of adding to the already incomprehensible hotch-potch of housing subsidies, would it not be better to increase personal allowances to wage-earners who are also householders, thereby taking the sensible step of subsidising families and not houses?

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have no doubt that he will take into consideration what has been said.

Photo of Mr Joseph Dean Mr Joseph Dean , Leeds West

Is my hon. Friend aware that his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. Roberts) will not be very well received in Leeds by younger people who are attempting to buy older houses and set up home for the first time, or by those who are awaiting improvement grants? Is he aware that by any known criteria—for example, size of city, size of population and size of housing problem related to population—Leeds appears to have been discriminated against? Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that the situation will be reviewed as quickly as possible?

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

I can assure my hon. Friend that there has been no discrimination against Leeds. I shall present the figures to him to prove that that is not so. When we are allocating resources of this sort, we want them to go where they are most needed. I assure my hon. Friend that Leeds has had a fair allocation.