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Housing Executive

Volume 14: debated on Thursday 3 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what number of houses he expects to be sold by the Housing Executive in the current financial year; and, in this connection, what sums will become available from building societies for spending by the Housing Executive in the current financial year.

This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, but I understand from the chairman that over 7,000 sales are likely to be completed during this financial year. I regret that without information from individual building societies the Housing Executive cannot assess the extent to which sums will become available to it from this particular source.

With regard to the latter part of the Minister's reply., while I in no way challenge the necessity for the annual accounting of public money, are not capital sums received in that way by the Housing Executive from building societies intended to form a net addition to resources? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that there are no pedantic and absurd results from the way in which such payments fall on one side or the other at the end of the financial year?

I expect that the Housing Executive will spend about £19 million this year on housing from its receipts. As to the financing of next year's programme, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will join me in not wanting marked pound notes in relation to particular sources, so long as we can ensure that sufficient resources finance an adequate programme. I am discussing that matter with the chairman of the Housing Executive.

Is not the Housing Executive's real problem that the Minister's policies do not allow it to plan in advance? May we have an undertaking that in the next Appropriation Order money will be made available to the Housing Executive to enable it to plan at least five years in advance?

Apart from the question of the resources available, I am discussing with the Housing Executive a planned programme—which is exactly what the hon. Gentleman asks for—to enable it to look further than 12 months ahead. We shall then seek to make the resources available.