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Housing Expenditure (Leicester)

Volume 115: debated on Wednesday 6 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money from central Government funding was provided for the city of Leicester to spend on housing in 1979 and 1986, respectively.

Central Government contributions towards Leicester city council's housing expenditure are estimated to have been £45·2 million in 1986–87. A comparable figure is not available for 1979.

A comparable figure, is it, because it would show that the amount available has been reduced by at least 50 per cent., thereby making it impossible for the excellent Leicester city council to carry out its duties in providing, maintaining and improving housing for people who need it in our cities?

On a specific point, what has happened to the £14 million that the Government promised would be available by the end of April under housing defects legislation for councils such as Leicester? Smith houses, Boot houses and houses with other defects are placing an immense burden on the council. Money will have to be spent on these houses instead of on the general provision. The money was promised, but where is it?

The announcement about the additional sums will be made in due course, to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman's second point. In answer to his first point, he supported the Labour Administration of 1974 to 1979, which made the biggest capital cuts in the nation's housing programme ever—about 46 per cent.

Will my hon. Friend exercise great caution in giving any additional sums of money to Leicester? Is he aware that Leicester city council—sadly, it is Labour-controlled now, but it will be Conservative-controlled after tomorrow — has 1,000 empty council houses and 26,000 council houses needing repair? The council is spending £5,972 on fighting the Housing and Planning Act 1986, which gives more rights to council tenants. It shows no interest in council tenants whatsoever. It is twinned with Nicaragua and does not give a damn for the decent people who live in Leicester.

I am delighted to respond to the authentic voice of the city of Leicester. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, and with the editor of the Leicester Mercury, who, on Friday 1 May, condemned the activities of the Leicester city council in its smear campaigns over the rights of tenants in Leicester city—campaigns to which the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) gave his support.