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Volume 175: debated on Wednesday 4 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been the level of central Government grants in support of housing expenditure in Ross and Cromarty district in the last three years for which figures are available.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
(Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

In the three years to 31 March 1990, Ross and Cromarty district council received housing support grant in excess of £11.2 million, and croft housing grants of more than £294,000 were approved.

Is the Minister aware that last year the district council carried out a major housing survey of its needs and projected expenditure and that it is estimated that a rolling programme of £60 million will be needed next year for new build, to improve council stock and to bring private sector housing up from below tolerable standard to reasonable standard? Given the number of representations that both the district council and I are receiving from many communities in Ross and Cromarty—and from many housing schemes in individual communities—will not the Minister have to look again at his spending allocations for the district authority? There is no way that it will meet over the next five years the obvious needs that have been identified by the council.

I welcomed the opportunity to meet the hon. Gentleman's district council last summer and I am aware of the problems that he mentioned. The amount of housing below tolerable standard has been reduced by more than half over the past 10 years, but I am aware of the extent of such housing in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. A rural housing study is being carried out in depth, almost from Muckle Flugga to Mull of Kintyre, and we hope to come forward with a concerted strategy in Scotland by September.

Part of the answer may lie in the extent to which the private sector will come in to support local authorities and Scottish Homes in partnership projects.