HC Deb 03 December 1975 vol 901 cc1670-1
10. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent discussions he has had with the Building Societies Association.

Mr. Freeson

As I have previously indicated, I and my Department maintain regular contact with the Building Societies Association over a wide range of subjects.

Mr. McCrindle

What practical help can the Minister offer to those on low incomes or those wishing to buy older properties who now find that the requirements of the building societies for advancing money to them are too stringent? Now that local authority sources of finance for this purpose have virtually evaporated, does not the hon. Gentleman realise that unless he can induce building societies to relax their lending requirements there will be almost a complete blockage in the purchase of older properties?

Mr. Freeson

I do not accept that there will be a complete blockage, but this is a matter of considerable concern to me and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. We are considering this aspect of policy and practice very seriously.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is considerable evidence that building societies are imposing restrictions in specific urban areas, in refusing to lend to those proposing to purchase properties in areas which they do not consider sufficiently attractive to provide adequate security?

Mr. Freeson

I am aware that this is one facet of the problem to which the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) referred, in certain situations. However, there is a considerable area of overlap between building society lending as a whole and that for which local authorities have been responsible. We estimate that about 20 per cent. of building society lending is on pre-1919 properties. That does not obviate the problem. But there is an overlap here, because we also find the reverse position. In the past there was considerable lending by local authorities in areas and in respect of properties also covered by the building societies.