HC Deb 03 August 1926 vol 198 cc2786-7

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the housing shortage in the city of Perth; that new stables are being built to accommodate 66 horses at the annual Perth Hunt races; that these stables, or some of them, will only be occupied four days each year; and whether he can take any steps to ensure that the available supply of building materials and labour shall be utilised for the provision of housing accommodation before being consumed in new racecourse stables?


The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the remaining parts of the question I have no power to intervene as suggested and I may remind the hon. Member that in 1924 a Committee representing all parties in the building trade definitely recommended that there should be no restriction on private or commercial building work. I understand that these particular buildings have already been completed; that they were built largely with unskilled labour and that their erection did not in point of fact interfere with the progress of City housing schemes.


Is it not the case that these stables are built of brick, and will not this take away all these materials, supplies and the use of labour which otherwise would have been utilised in house building; and do these things not seriously affect the shortage of houses in Perth?


My attention has been frequently drawn by the lion. Member to the extreme inadvisability of allowing any unskilled labour to be employed on house building.


Is not that a complete perversion of my point of view, and may I repeat the question I put as to whether the use of bricks for building stables for a racecourse, which will only be in use for four days each year, is not a waste of material which might have been used for building houses?


There is no question of wasting material if it is being used for other purposes. If the material is needed for housing purposes, it will be used for those purposes, but if it is not needed for houses it would be the height of folly to condemn these men to unemployment.


Is it not a fact that the Minister of Labour has succeeded in placing in training a large number of men in the building trade, and that these men have not yet been absorbed in regular employment?


That is another question.


Is it not a fact that there is a great shortage of houses in Perth, and is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the report issued by the Scottish Board of Health shows that the children who live in four-roomed houses have a chance of 20 years more life than the children who are reared in single-room apartments; and is it not time, when you have put, out such a report, that you should put your foot down here, and stop people building stables when houses are required? [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]