Housing Support Grant (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:59 pm on 17th February 1993.

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Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West 11:59 pm, 17th February 1993

I will read Hansard tomorrow, in case I do not answer in the few moments that are left to me all the points that were made.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) asked various questions about Scottish Homes. I shall suggest to its chairman that he should meet the hon. Gentleman. While my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has powers of direction, that is a heavy-handed measure to use. It has not been employed yet, and I invite the hon. Gentleman to follow up his points at a meeting. If he does not receive satisfaction—but I hope he will—he can come back to me.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) asked whether we could write off local authority capital debt. Unfortunately, we cannot. Local authorities with high levels of capital debt receive housing support grant to help them to service that debt through the loan charges that fall on the housing revenue account. Given that assistance, authorities secure enough income to meet the costs associated with council housing.

I should point out to the hon. Lady that there is no evidence that Glasgow's debt in relation to council housing exceeds the value of that council housing. I therefore see no particular reason why the national taxpayer should be expected to meet the cost of writing off the capital debt when, in any case, the sums involved would be enormous. I can tell the hon. Lady, however, that the results of the Scottish national house condition survey will be out quite soon—this year—and will be enormously helpful in pointing the way to effective targeting of resources in the future.