To ask the Secretary of State for Energy how many homes occupied by (i) pensioners and (ii) others, have been given financial assistance for insulation since 1983.
From 1983 to 1986 some 1,540,000 grants were paid under the homes insulation scheme, of which 312,000 were 90 per cent. grants to low income households, and some 267,000 low-income households were assisted by the community insulation projects. Many of the beneficiaries have been pensioners.
I thank my hon. Friend for that most encouraging reply. Does he envisage any changes in the homes insulation scheme or the community insulation project?
On the homes insulation scheme, the Government have already announced that the 90 per cent. grant will be extended to all households claiming supplementary benefit or housing benefit. That will mean that more than half as many homes again will be eligible. On the community insulation projects, all low-income households claiming income support, housing benefit or family credit will be eligible for the service from next April. That will more than double the number of eligible households, from fewer than 3 million to about 7 million.
Will the Minister confirm that yesterday British Coal agreed to sell 1,400 homes in Nottinghamshire to an organisation called the Lancashire Housing Association, which has assets worth less than £500,000? British Coal has agreed to sell them at a figure of £9·2 million.
Order. Are they insulated?
I am sorry that I took so long to get to the question. Mr. Speaker. These houses are very badly insulated. They house more than 2,500 pensioners, most of whom have given their lives to the coal industry, and now British Coal in Nottinghamshire is selling them and their homes down the river.
If the households to which the hon. Gentleman referred have a case for help under the homes insulation scheme or the community insulation projects, I shall ensure that those householders have the right to find out what might be available for them. I am not in a position to say more than that.
My hon. Friend should be congratulated on the amount of insulation that has been installed, but what is the Government's thinking on windows? Windows allow the greatest heat loss from houses. Why is double glazing not an automatic feature of new house build? Why is it not put into the specifications, and what encouragement are the Government giving to the building industry to ensure that double glazing is installed to prevent heat loss and help with energy problems?
On housing and building regulations, I assure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has recently issued a directive that draws attention to the need for double glazing as well as many other ways of insulating people's houses.