asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) how many housing authorities are not at present using their powers to make discretionary grants for improvements, and how many are; and how many of the latter are fixing a maximum lower than that laid down by statute;(2) how many housing authorities have, during the past 12 months, suspended the payment of discretionary improvement grants entirely, or reduced their maxima; and how many of these have later resumed these payments.
It is the essence of the discretionary scheme that authorities are free to decide whether to pay grant or not, and how much to pay within the permissible maximum. My right hon. Friend has not asked them all to inform him exactly how they are operating the scheme and the hon. Member's Questions cannot be answered entirely in the form he has put them. I know, however, that 60 authorities never use their power to pay discretionary grants; that 208 who normally make these grants have not done so in the last 12 months; and that 1,200 have made grants in that period. The average discretionary grant paid to private owners in the first nine months of 1965 was slightly higher than in the same period of 1964, £277 compared with £271.