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The hon. Member mentioned the HAT--the housing action trust--and he was right to do so because Liverpool has the largest HAT in the country. It has taken over 67 high-rise blocks in the city, a total of 5,337 homes. Several of those blocks are in the hon. Member's constituency. A very large sum of money will be needed to improve the flats and the living conditions in them and to put in place a better management service, and we have made it perfectly clear that large sums of money will be made available.

For example, this year alone, an allocation of £16 million has been made. Most of it is being used to achieve the HAT's immediate priority of catching up on outstanding repairs. That is a £20 million two-year programme to ensure that all the homes are warm, secure and watertight. Such a programme is a considerable commitment by the Government.

We also have the Merseyside development corporation, which has played an important role in supporting the provision of new homes for both rent and sale. It has provided land, cleared and prepared for development,


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which has enabled opportunities for new- build schemes. In north Liverpool, the continuing redevelopment of the Vauxhall area through private developers, housing associations and housing co-operatives is extremely welcome. The Eldonian housing co-operative development, for example, on the old Tate and Lyle site is not only well but flourishing.

I also emphasise a special allocation for Merseyside, again supported by the Government. In the current year, that special allocation--it is unique in the country because no area other than Merseyside has it--totalled £20 million and it has been used to take on empty local authority stock in poor condition and improve it for rent. In Liverpool, the vacant stock initiative is tackling 1,300 properties by refurbishing or converting vacant houses and flats for sale or for rent through housing associations.

Merseyside has also secured three city challenge areas. It means over £110 million of spending power over a five-year period. The motion having been made at Ten o'clock and the debate having continued for half an hour, Madam Speaker-- adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at half-past Ten o'clock.


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