§ Mr. Merchant
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ensure that housing investment trusts can benefit from the same accounting rules as other investment trusts under the Companies Act 1985. 
§ Mr. Curry
The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim), has agreed, in principle, to extend the definition of investment companies in section 266 of the Companies Act 1985 to cover properties of the type to be held by housing investment trusts so that the same reliefs are available to those companies. As there is a need to consult on any proposal to amend the Companies Act, and to ensure that wider accounting treatment issues are considered thoroughly, it is unlikely the necessary amendment could be introduced this year. We would expect the required order to be laid before the House early in the new year.