HC Deb 24 July 1924 vol 176 cc1512-3

asked the Secretary for Scotland, in view of the present high death rate from tuberculosis due to the deplorable housing conditions in various crofting areas in the Highlands of Scotland, when he proposes to take steps to improve the housing conditions in the Highlands?

Mr. JAMES STEWART (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland)

I am aware that the death rate from tuberculosis in various crofting areas is high, though I cannot admit that bad housing is the sole contributory cause. Considerable improvement has recently taken place in the housing conditions in many districts of the Highlands and Islands. Facilities for improving the housing conditions are already available under the existing law and will be extended to some extent under the provisions of the Housing Bill. Under that Bill the whole area within the Highlands and Islands (exclusive of burghs) will be a rural area within which the higher rate of subsidy will be payable in cases to which it is applicable. Under existing arrangements crofters are entitled to assistance on special terms from the Board of Agriculture for the improvement and provision of houses, and in addition they may obtain a subsidy from the local authority in terms of Section 2 of the Housing Act of 1923. Under Clause 7 of the present Bill if a local authority fails to take steps to make the subsidy under the Act of 1923 available to crofters the Board may pay it direct.

As far as the second part of the question is concerned, every step which it is possible for me to take to accelerate improvement in the housing conditions will be taken.


Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the death rate from consumption of the lungs in the Island of Lewis, the largest island in Great Britain, is nearly three times as high as the rate for Scotland as a whole, and that that is largely due to the appalling housing conditions?


Is not the prevalence of tuberculosis there due to consanguineous marriages?


I am not aware of that.