asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future of thermal insulation grants for local authority houses in Scotland.
The capital expenditure consents for 1980–81 included in full the sums requested by local authorities for their insulation programmes, and the loan charges on these will rank for housing support grant.Individual tenants remain eligible for grant under the Homes Insulation Scheme 1978 if they wish to carry out the work themselves.
Is the Minister aware that 50 per cent. of council houses have not yet been insulated? Does he agree that that is urgent work if we are to observe the energy conservation programme? If the work is not done, the Government's energy conservation programme will be damaged.
The hon. Gentleman appears not to have listened to what I said. I said that local authorities requests have been met in full within the programme. Over 100,000 houses have been dealt with since the scheme began. Nothing that the Government are doing will prevent local authorities from continuing with the scheme at the level that they have requested.
Will the Minister resist any attempt to reduce the amount of money that might be available for domestic insulation, as it is an essential part of energy policy in Scotland that we improve our energy usage rather than fabricate massive and unnecessary power stations, such as that at Torness? Will the hon. Gentleman, in collaboration with the Department of Energy, take steps to expand existing schemes, rather than contract them as the Department of the Environment seems intent upon doing?
I can speak only for the Scottish Office. The emphasis that we place on these issues is reflected in the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Hogg).
Will the Minister confirm, in clear, unequivocal terms, that the apparent attempt by the Department of the Environment to make cuts in this vital area will be resisted by the Minister and by his colleagues at the Scottish Office? Does he agree that such action would have severe consequences for the thermal insulation industry and for those families on low incomes who stand to benefit the most from insulation? We deserve a clear statement from the Minister that he will not follow the disastrous path which the Department of the Environment appears to be taking.
I can speak only for the Scottish Office. Requests from local authorities for thermal insulation assistance have been met in full for 1980–81.