Mr. W. ADAMSON
I beg to move, in page 47, line 5, at the end, to insert the words:Section 103 In the proviso to Sub-Section (2), for the words "special case," there shall be substituted the words "stated case.1216 It will be remembered that in Committee the Government, after hearing arguments from all quarters, agreed that on Report this necessary Amendment should be made.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Mr. W. ADAMSON
I beg to move, in page 47, column 2, to leave out lines 17 to 20, and to insert instead thereof the words:The words 'Part I of' shall be omitted; after the words 'with respect to which' there shall be inserted the words 'a clearance order, a demolition order, or'; and for the words 'under this Act or under any scheme made under this Act or any enactment repealed by this Act' there shall be substituted the words 'under any enactment relating to the housing of the working classes or to prevent possession being obtained of a house for the purpose of securing compliance with any bye-laws made for the prevention of overcrowding.'
§ Major ELLIOT
I do not think it will be unreasonable to ask the Under-Secretary of State to give an explanation of the very complicated Amendment which has just been read to the House.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
This particular Amendment of Section 112 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1925, is to make it clear that the Rent Restrictions Acts shall not prevent possession being obtained for the purpose of giving effect to a clearance order or a demolition order or for the purpose of preventing overcrowding. It will be remembered that this point was pretty adequately discussed in the Standing Committee, and, if I recollect aright, the Amendment to the Bill itself was agreed to without a Division.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Mr. W. ADAMSON
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
The discussions which have taken place since the Bill was introduced have shown that in its main structure the Bill has generally been acceptable to Members of the House, and also to the local authorities whose duty it will be to operate its provisions. A number of suggestions have been put forward from all sides of the House for the amendment and improvement of the Bill. In view of the Amendments which have been agreed to, it will, I think, be generally recognised that the 1217 Government have met, to a very large extent, the representations which have been made from the other side of the House. As representing the Government, I want to take this opportunity of thanking Members in all parts of the House for the assistance they have given by putting forward Amendments, and for the friendly spirit in which the Amendments have been discussed. The Bill, in the main, however, so far as the procedure proposed for dealing with slum areas and individual insanitary houses is concerned, remains substantially as it was when it was introduced. It is accordingly unnecessary for me to speak at length upon the provisions of the Bill, as they have already been explained to the House during the Second Reading of the Bill by myself and by my colleagues who have taken part in the discussions.
So far as the local authorities are concerned, there has been a good deal of doubt in their minds as to whether the financial terms offered by the Bill would, in practice, prove as favourable to them as the present 50 per cent. grant. As the result of explanations which have been given from time to time and the White Paper issued during the Committee stage, I hope that a good deal of the misapprehension with respect to the application and the operation of the new unit grants has been removed. I am satisfied that the terms of the new grant are much more favourable to the local authorities than the terms of the present grant, and that in practice it will be found that they are exceedingly generous. As I stated on the Second Reading, they are so designed as to offer the greatest inducement to local authorities to erect the larger-sized houses, which are so badly needed in Scotland for the rehousing of large families.
As was stated on the Second Reading, the Bill is an attempt to simplify and to expedite the procedure whereby the Congested areas of our large cities and the scattered uninhabitable houses of our smaller towns and villages will be done away with, and healthy new houses provided in their stead. I feel sure that I shall have the general approval of all parties in the House in making a strong appeal to the local authorities that they should at once proceed actively to put their powers into operation, and to commence the erection of the houses which 1218 will help to wipe away the reproach which has for so long rested upon Scottish housing. I hope that in considering the matter the local authorities will not overlook the urgent need for expedition, and that, so far as the building trade is concerned, the large number of workpeople at present unemployed will be considerably reduced.
§ Major ELLIOT
I am sure that we shall sympathise with the desire of the Secretary of State for Scotland that the local authorities should embark upon their task with the utmost expedition and that the standing reproach to Scotland of its dreadful slum conditions may be removed as soon as possible. He said that it was hoped that the local authorities would press forward the provisions of the Measure with the utmost expedition. I might say that, after all, the local authorities have had to wait a considerable time for the production and passing of this Measure. I agree that it was necessary for the Secretary of State to look closely into the matter, and I think that we cannot complain that the Bill has been unduly delayed in its passage through the House. As a matter of fact, the Secretary of State time taken the opportunity of thanking all sections of the House for their assistance both in the letter and in the spirit in the task which he has undertaken, and, on behalf of the Opposition, I beg to acknowledge that tribute which he has paid, at least as far as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen with whom I am associated are concerned.
Will the Bill succeed in the task which the Secretary of State has set it? The right hon. Gentleman is more confident than usual. We have often heard him say that he will examine the subject with the greatest care, will look very closely into the matter, will give it his very careful consideration: I suggest that he Should have used one of his well-known phrases this evening. We do not propose to divide against the Bill. The task before us is too grave for carping criticism, and a review of the work will come a year hence when we examine the programme launched under the Bill and examine it in relation to the housing needs of Scotland. It will not be enough if a considerable number of houses are transferred from the Wheatley and Chamberlain Acts to reappear under the Adamson Act. The Bill must provide a 1219 substantial new addition to the houses of Scotland if it is to secure a more speedy dealing with the problem which we are now discussing. It may succeed in doing that, and the Secretary of State will believe me when I say that we on this side will be more than thankful to see his most confident predictions fulfilled and our utmost misgivings proved illusory.
The position is grave enough. The Report of the Department of Health for Scotland indicates the nature of the problem before us. It is not possible for us in Scotland to call ourselves civilised as long as these conditions exist. For a State to call itself civilised when children are kept awake by vermin is not a proper use of the word "civilised." A State which allows walls to be built in front of windows so that it is impossible to see the light of day, where people have to burn gas throughout the whole 24 hours, is not sensible let alone civilised. If we can remove these reproaches we shall have done a great deal, but these great evils cannot be remedied by State action alone. In many ways the housing conditions in England are an example to us in Scotland. They have succeeded in building faster and better houses, and the great mass of rookeries which deface Scotland have no parallel in England. The hon. Member for North Lanark (Miss Lee) has said that the proportion of our population living in single-roomed houses is greater than that in the mining and industrial areas of England. In all these matters we must remember that what is improving and saving the situation in England is the great programme of unassisted houses which she is carrying out, and unless we can in some way get this assistance into our housing problem it will lag behind that of England in the solution.
The debates on the housing problem in England showed the astonishing fact, which is not generally recognised, that not merely in slum clearance but in ordinary municipal housing local authorities in Scotland are doing much more than their opposite numbers in England. In the matter of slum clearances we are doing much more than local authorities in England. In local authority houses England is only building between 50,000 and 60,000 per year, and even at our reduced rate we are building 10,000 1220 houses a year, which is equivalent to about 80,000 houses in England. But in England they are building over 200,000 houses a year. How is the difference made up? It is made up from unassisted houses and private enterprise houses. Every step we take in Scotland to make the position of private enterprise more difficult and militate against the security of money invested in houses as against money invested in other forms of investment, actually and deliberately injures the people of Scotland and defers the day when our people will be as well housed as the people in England. We must take these things into account. The fall in our housing programme to 10,000 houses a year is said to be due to the reduction in the subsidy. If that is so the maintenance of the subsidy would have helped to arrest that fall and even help to increase the number under construction. That has not yet happened. It may be about to happen, but any increase in local authority houses shows no sign of bringing the municipal housing programme to anything like 20,000 houses a year, which was previously the order of the day.
The fall in municipal housing began before there was any suggestion of a reduction in the subsidy. It was due to the weight of finance pressing upon local authorities and making them more and more dubious of undertaking fresh responsibilities. This is likely to continue; and we see this by the position in England, where local authorities which are prosperous, which have a low figure of unemployment, not merely lower than any in Scotland but actually lower than the pre-War figure of unemployment, can only produce a rate of municipal housing less than our present reduced programme in Scotland. What is likely, therefore, to happen to local authorities in Scotland heavily burdened with debt, with strained finances due to a long continued depression, and who look gravely to the future. What is the prospect of doubling the municipal housing programme at present in operation? We must look at these matters in the full light of reality, and it is certain that the depression which is weighing upon local authorities and leading, amongst other things, to a reduction in the housing programme is not going to be dispelled merely by the provisions of this 1221 Bill. It may do a great deal but I do not think it is going to do as much as its supporters believe.
The smaller houses, which are presumably to be occupied by the poorest people, are not to be provided under this Bill at all but will have to be provided under the Wheatley Act. No additional inducement is being given to provide the smaller houses, the demand for which is so repeatedly made by many sections of the people in Scotland, and has been reiterated this evening by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) who represents one of the worst constituencies in Scotland so far as housing is concerned. For the smaller houses, no improvement is to be found in this Bill. Smaller houses have to be provided in the future, as in the past, by an Act which has stood on the Statute Book for four or five years. For the larger houses, a substantially greater grant is given under this Bill.
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) delivered a speech on the Second Reading of the Bill which seemed to touch the matter very closely. He pointed out that the question of income was paramount in the homes of the people, and that while depression in trade existed, while the shortage of money existed, to bring a man and his family from a smaller house to a larger house might mean an actual injury to health, because it meant bringing him from circumstances in which he could keep warm and the family could get food, into circumstances where there would be greater difficulty in keeping warm and where the money which had been previously spent upon food would have to be spent upon other social needs. It is very necessary to remember these facts. It is also necessary to remember that we cannot treat housing alone and take it out of relation to the general social life of the citizen. The effects of industrial depression, the effects of the higher rating burdens which are the inevitable result of many of these housing developments, weigh upon the industry of Scotland. To that extent we retard that re-development of Scotland as a healthy economic unit which must be the final way by which we can get rid of the slums and of other social problems with which we are confronted.
1222 The difficulty with which Scotland is confronted and with which the administration in Scotland is confronted are grave enough, and none would wish to minimise their gravity. Those of us who hold positions of trust in Scotland realise well enough that the desire of the Secretary of State and his colleagues has been to improve the conditions of the people and to make a genuine step forward, but they have still a long way to go before the housing programme in Scotland comes up to what it has been. If the right hon. Gentleman can take the steps necessary to bring up the housing of Scotland to the 20,000 programme, he will have made a very considerable advance. We shall see whether the new Measure will do anything to bring the programme of housing in Scotland up to that figure. Meanwhile, we say that we wish you well. Go ahead. Administer the Act, so long as its administration lies in your power, and when we come into power we shall do our utmost to administer the Act well. When we come into office next year.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—Yes, and we have to present the Estimates, we shall be reviewing the progress which this Act has made. I can promise the right hon. Gentleman that we shall not seek to repeal his Act. We shall not seek to sweep it away, but we shall be more than willing to use any engine or any weapon which he leaves to us to carry out the great task that lies before us.
The difficulties of housing in Scotland are not yet solved. This Bill does not do as much as the House had hoped when it was introduced. The White Paper shows quite clearly that many other Acts had to be brought in to supplement the deficiencies of this Bill which have been revealed during its passage through the House. At the same time, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary have, as we truly believe, worn away the Treasury carpet by their repeated visits to that grim building until, as the Under-Secretary said, in a, vivid phrase, the Chancellor of the Exchequer ordered the cat's milk to be taken in when he saw them coming. While we are grateful for what the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary have done, we realise that housing in Scotland will not be dealt with as we had 1223 hoped by this Measure. There is a great legacy of dirt, disease and death still to be removed by future Administrations. Let us hope that future Administrations, of whatever political complexion, will succeed in removing that legacy, so that we can hold up our heads in Scotland and not be known as the place where the rats bite the babies in their beds.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Members who sit for areas in Scotland where the slum problem is grave have eagerly looked forward to this Bill dealing with slum clearance, and we are glad to get to the Third Reading stage of the Bill, whatever oar opinions may be about the scope of the Bill or its imaginativeness, because everyone wants to see far more rapid progress made in the demolition and replacement of the slums with decent houses for the people. We are glad that we have got out of the period of consideration, of careful consideration and of active consideration to the Third Reading of the Measure. The Bill falls into three parts. The first is the machinery part, and I think it is a great advance in this kind of legislation to get a clear distinction drawn between areas that may be improved and areas where improvement is not possible. That will be of great use to the local authorities. Whatever one may say by way of slogan before a Bill is brought in, a slogan has this limitation that when we have coined the slogan we have not solved the problem.
The two new ideas in the Bill are the new unit grant and the differential rents. I am bound to speak with caution in regard to the effect of these new arrangements. In regard to the first, we have been concerned with two problems. In the first place, we saw the likely effect of the Bill upon present programmes, like that of the St. Leonards scheme in Edinburgh, in actual operation by the local authorities concerned. Then we were concerned, especially those who sit for areas where there are projected clearance schemes to come when those now under way are completed, as to what was likely to be the effect of the new financial arrangements upon those schemes. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the Scottish local authorities for the way in which they discussed with hon. Members and with the Government 1224 the financial arrangements. Having read most of the documents sent by the English local authorities in respect of the English Housing Bill, I must say that the Scottish Board of Health have been better served by the Scottish local authorities in regard to accurate estimates than the Minister of Health has been served by the English local authorities.
There can be no doubt that the Bill as it stands now is a great improvement upon the original proposals. I hope that the new unit grant will fulfil the highest hopes of those who framed the Bill, but I am bound to say that I do not think it really goes to the root of the slum problem, namely, the putting of a house where people want it, at a rent that they can afford to pay, and for those who have the smallest incomes among the workers. That is my opinion, and I wish I could say otherwise. Having said that, I welcome the Bill, and I hope that the unit grant in the form in which it appears in the Bill will be an immense success in regard to the present schemes and those that are to come. With regard to the differential rents, I am by no means assured that they will work out as happily or as smoothly as the Government itself think.
I do not wish to detain the House long, but I think that all Scottish Members, while congratulating the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State and the Lord Advocate on having successfully piloted the Bill through the House, will like to pay a special tribute to the patience, the ability, and the hard labours of the Under-Secretary of State in connection with this Bill. I am quite sure that will be the wish of every Member who has taken part in the discussion.
As far as slums are concerned, they are a curse to civilisation. They prevent full civilisation. There is no nation which is civilised in the fullest sense of the word which does not give every man, woman and child living within its ambit a full opportunity for the exercise of every native creative faculty which that man, woman or child possesses; andcabin'd, cribb'd, and confin'das these people are, there are few things which can more assist the well-being of our peoples than dealing with those horrible slum-ridden dens. In so far as 1225 this is a contribution, although not as wide as we might want, to the purpose of ridding the land of slums, we all heartily welcome the Third Reading and congratulate the Government on having got to this point.
May I be permitted to add a word of congratulation to the Under-Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Scotland for producing what, in the opinion of some of us, is easily the best Measure which this Government has so far been able to produce? This Bill commends itself on these grounds. The simplification of machinery will enable local authorities, should they so wish, to proceed at a more rapid rate with the demolition of slums and with an attempt to deal with overcrowding. In my opinion, the essential good point about this Measure is that an effort is now at last definitely being made to deal with what is worse than slum conditions—overcrowding. Overcrowding in Scotland is incomparably worse than in England, and the reason why we have so much overcrowding in Scotland is that up to now the average house in Scotland has been either a single-apartment house or a room and kitchen—a two-roomed house. I regret that hon. Members opposite should have, in a sense, resisted the endeavour of this Measure to prevent the building of two-apartment houses, because, if the old 50–50 basis had been permitted to remain, it would have enabled local authorities to go on building a large percentage of those two-apartment houses which we do not wish to see built.
The figures of overcrowding relating to one and two-apartment houses are very interesting. There are 98 per cent. of those living more than four to a room who are living in either one or two-roomed houses; of those living more than three to a room, 90 per cent. are housed in either one or two-roomed houses; and of those living more than two to a room, 77 per cent. are in one or two-roomed houses. A cause of over-crowding in Scotland has been the building in former years of one and two-roomed houses, and this Measure, by giving local authorities a smaller financial grant for the two-apartment house, and a larger financial grant-in-aid for houses of more than two apartments, is definitely holding out to local authorities 1226 the encouragement which they seem to require to build houses of a right size.
Another point worth mentioning is that here for the first time the child has been recognised as a person of importance. There were attempts in former years in Glasgow to deal with overcrowding by affixing on the door of single-apartment houses a ticket stating, so many hundred or thousand cubic feet, three and a-half or two and a-half persons; and a child under 10 years of age counted as the half. We must realise that we have progressed very considerably since those days. In 1862 an Act of Parliament permitted local authorities to build houses with a capacity of only 750 cubic feet per room. Here in this Measure we are regarding the child as an adult for grant-earning purposes, and that is a step in the right direction.
Another important benefit is that this Measure compels local authorities to face up to the facts of the situation. There is to be a periodical survey at once, then another three years from now, and thereafter one every five years. In the past, local authorities have been content to rely on old statistics. We are told that a finding of the Royal Commission 40 years ago revealed a certain lack of housing accommodation. Now we have a periodic survey, and, more important still, local authorities are compelled under this Measure to adopt a standard beyond which they must not allow houses to be occupied. I do not know that it has yet been pointed out that, the more stringent the local authority makes this standard, the bigger the grant which it will be able to earn in an improvement area. If they fix a standard of two persons to a room, rather than the existing standard for Scotland, which is three, it will be possible for them to earn a bigger unit grant for dealing with their improvement areas.
An hon. friend sitting on the benches beside me here suggested on the Second Reading of this Bill that it was not going to the root cause of the housing problem in Scotland. I disagree with my friend on that point. Local authorities by this Measure are getting greater financial assistance from the State. Take the City of Glasgow, where a rate of 1d. in the £ brings in a sum of £45,000. If the Corporation of Glasgow contribute merely the £4 10s. per house which is the 1227 minimum, they can for an increase of 1d. on the rate deal with 10,000 houses. If, however, they maintain their former contribution, somewhere about £7 10s. per house, they will be enabled to let a house at a rental some 1s. 6d. per week lower than they are able to do under the present scheme. That is a consideration. Not only that; if the local authority choose to use the powers which are already in their possession they can provide not merely a house but a fair amount of furniture—cupboards, beds and so on. With a reduced rental of 1s. 6d., 2s. or 2s. 6d., in Glasgow and in the larger cities, it will be possible under this Act to provide for a family of five people a house to let at a rental of somewhere about 5s. or 5s. 6d. per week. That is better than they have been able to do in the past, and I say, to those very people who have not been provided for by former Acts of Parliament, that this Measure is at last giving great benefits by bringing to their aid all the powers of local authorities.
We are no doubt right in congratulating ourselves in Scotland that our local authorities have been less backward than the English local authorities in dealing with slum clearance, but let us use the term "less backward" rather than say that we in Scotland have been more successful. We have in Scotland housing accommodation which, had the authorities been in earnest in former years, would not be existing at the present time. We must ask ourselves why it is that former measures were not used. Was the financial assistance not sufficient? Was the machinery too cumbrous? This Measure simplifies the machinery, and increases the financial assistance. It seems to me that this Measure is at last offering a chance to the local authorities of Scotland to deal with the housing problem themselves, and if, in spite of this Measure, five years from now we find that conditions, have not materially improved, then it will remain for the Government to step over the heads of the local authorities and do what some of us think ought to have been done before now—conduct a large national housing Department and build houses wherever they are required.
1228 One could cite instances in Scotland of towns and country areas where no attempt has been made to deal with the housing problem. I regret to say that my constituency some three years ago decided to build no more houses, in spite of the medical officer having reported a great shortage of houses. I am glad to have the assurance of the Secretary for Scotland that he intends to use powers never used by his predecessors in order to compel local authorities to make use of the powers conferred on them by this Bill, and thus materially to contribute to the improvement of the housing condition in their area. This Bill has met with very little opposition from any side of the Committee or House. It is refreshing to believe that here all patties are anxious to remove what is, after all, the greatest curse in Scotland. I hope that the local authorities will follow the example of Parliament and really apply themselves to the task of bringing housing standards in Scotland a little nearer to what they ought to be.
§ Major COLVILLE
I trust that this Bill will prove a real step forward in the direction of dealing with slum clearance, but I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without saying that I regret very much that the Government did not see their way to leave the 50–50 provisions of the Chamberlain Act as an alternative. I say that because it has become evident, during the passage of the Bill, that it will not deal effectively with the case of the small house and the small family, which is left to be dealt with by the Wheatley Act. In one of the most progressive local authorities in the country in dealing with slum clearance, namely, the Corporation of Edinburgh, the question of the small family has been found to be very important. It has been found that on the average the number of persons per house displaced and rehoused under housing schemes was no greater than 3.5 in the City of Edinburgh. The reason is that in that district it is a question rather of overcrowding houses on to spaces rather than overcrowding of persons into houses.
All the time that Edinburgh was dealing with this question the Wheatley Act was on the Statute Book. They were entitled to use it if they chose. But they chose to use the Chamberlain Act with 1229 its 50–50 provision. Edinburgh has made great progress. It has dealt with or is dealing with 12,500 persons in 3,484 houses. By way of comparison I would mention that in England, in a comparable period, only 15,000 houses dealing with 74,000 persons have been erected. I know that we in Scotland have leeway to make up, and I want to see it made up. But we must bear in mind that certain local authorities, while that Wheatley Act was available for them, preferred to make use of the Chamberlain Act. That is why I am sorry that the Government did not see their way to leave the Chamberlain Act, with its 50–50 principle, as an alternative for the authorities that may wish to make use of it. There is another reason. Building costs are now as low as they are likely to be. It is said that there will be a tendency to rise. If building is carried out on a large scale and costs rise, the local authorities have now not got the powers that they had formerly to share that cost equally with the State on the 50–50 principle.
There is another point in connection with this Bill to which I would call attention, but here I must walk delicately or I may find myself out of order. I have always expressed strong views about the use of British materials in housing schemes. There is no mention of this matter in the Bill, but I understand that, by an administrative arrangement, the Department from time to time circularises local authorities on the subject of the use of British materials in housing schemes. I sincerely hope that the Government will bear in mind that house-building has an important aspect as far as employment is concerned. If they are correct in believing that this Bill will result in a great house-building programme—and though we may have our doubts, we trust that they will prove to be correct in that belief—it is to be hoped that the market so created will be reserved, as far as possible, for the home worker and the home producer. I hope that the strongest action possible will be taken by the Department to keep in touch with the local authorities on this question and to urge the use of British materials. It is within my knowledge that large quantities of foreign joinery work and baths and other materials are being used in building in this country. I stress this point because 1230 I believe it to be of the greatest importance at a time when there is grave unemployment in this country and when we have tradesmen of our own out of employment who make these articles which are now being imported from abroad. I trust that this Measure will prove a step forward in regard to housing in Scotland, and if, as I say, we have our doubts as to its results we have throughout all stages of the Bill tried to make it a better Bill. But I believe that it would be a better Bill still if the Government had not cancelled the provisions of the Chamberlain Act as far as the "50–50" principle is concerned.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
The Government have no reason to complain of the way in which this Bill has been dealt with during the various stages of its progress through the House of Commons. It has been subjected to close and critical analysis and examination at every stage and it has weathered the storm. There is no Bill which is not capable of being improved by discussion and this Bill has been improved, but, in its main principles and structure, it remains the Bill which was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I do not take that very depressing view of the housing situation in Scotland taken by the former Under-Secretary. He said he would fain see the beginning of an upward tendency in house-building. He was so accustomed during the later period of his regime at the Scottish Office to seeing the figures fall, month by month, that he cannot but imagine that those figures, somehow or other, must still be falling. I am sure he will be delighted to know that for the first six months of this year the number of tenders approved for housing in Scotland has been beater than the number in either of the two previous years. In 1928 the number of tenders approved was 4,115, and in 1929 it was 4,169. For the first six months of this year the number is 5,123, in other words, about one-fifth or 20 per cent. more.
It is quite true, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman says, that many of the local authorities are in an extremely embarrassed financial position and many of them would look twice at any proposal in housing or anything else which necessitate the expenditure of fresh money. But ought it not to be the hon. and 1231 gallant Gentleman's duty, as it is ours, to explain to these local authorities precisely what are the financial Clauses of this Bill, and what the Bill means? Let me explain to the House, by a method that I frequently use in discussing the matter with local authorities, where our financial arrangements will benefit the harassed local authorities. Take the three-apartment house. Under the present system—the fifty-fifty system, as it is called—the local authorities have borne an average lees of £8 per annum per house. They lose that, of course, on two, three or four-apartment houses alike. What grant are they going to get, and what are they going to lose under the terms of our Bill? Instead of getting only £8 from the State, as they are getting now, they will, for an average family of five persons in a three-apartment house, get five times £2 10s.; that is to say, £12 10s., as against £8. [Interruption.] I have taken the figure for 40 years as £8; the loss for 60 years is £7 5s. under the present system. I am taking strictly comparable figures, and I say that the loss under the present system on the average three-apartment house is £8 per annum, whereas the sum which they will get under our system is £12 10s.
That is not all. Not only will they get this £12 10s., but up to 15s. per head by way of compensation, if that compensation requires to be paid. Of course, it will not be 15s. in every case, but it will be an indeterminate sum up to 15s. as a maximum. There is therefore this £12 10s., plus a sum for compensation, as against £8 under the present system. Let me take the two-apartment house, which we have struggled to limit in number, partly because the number of two and single-apartment houses are already disproportionately large in Scotland. We have done our utmost by persuasion with the local authorities to prevent them building a larger number of these two-apartment houses. This type is a three-unit house under our system, and here again the loss is £8 at present. Under our system they will get £7 10s., and they will therefore lose 10s. They will gain £4 10s. for a three-apartment house, and lose 10s. on every two-apartment house. On a four-apartment house, which is a seven-unit house under our system, on 1232 which at present the loss is £8 per annum, they will get £17 10s. per annum. Let me put it in another way. On a two-apartment house, the capital grant will work out at 37 per cent. On a three-apartment house, the capital grant from the State will work out at 56 per cent.; and on a four-apartment house the capital value of the grant will work out at no less than 74 per cent. per annum.
Every local authority which will pick out improvement areas where there are large families and build houses for those Large families can, I make bold to say, build those houses at the figures and let them at the rents of which the hon. Member for Renfrewshire has just spoken. There is at least one area in this country where the local authority has had accurate statistics compiled of the cost of disease. We have often heard about the cost of public health services and housing, but what about the cost of disease? For three years an accurate tally was kept of the extra costs to the public health of a particular slum—Roslin Place, Glasgow. What does Roslin Place cost the citizens of Glasgow for tuberculosis, infectious diseases and so on? The figures work out at over £1 per head per annum extra. A family of five living there costs £5 extra to the community which has permitted that slum to exist. I hope that when hon. Gentlemen are tallying up the costs of rehousing they will put on the debit side of the balance-sheet the cost of disease caused by slums.
I wish to add a word about another provision in the Bill which will enable local authorities to provide hostels for single persons. A strong Committee has been appointed to go over and criticise the plans and specifications which have been drawn up showing what can be done with a decently-planned hostel system. The Lord Provosts of the four chief cities in Scotland and their architects, the secretaries of the three large building unions, Sir Henry Keith, and the secretary of the National Housing and Town Planning Association, Sir William White, have been asked to join the Committee. I am going to venture on no prophecy, but the highest charge I have heard for a single room for a single person in one of these hostels, equipped with all the latest facilities, with electric lighting and heating, with a garden in the centre of 1233 it, with decencies and comforts such as these poor people have never before known—the highest charge for such a house, everything included, is in the neighbourhood of 3s. 6d. a week. I have heard it put as low as 2s. 9d. [Interruption.] Yes, including lighting. [Interruption.] I do not know whether it is nearly right or not; but I am giving the best information I have got. If this hostel system pans out as we hope it will, and with the figures I have given of the comparative grants for houses under this Bill and the existing legislation, there is no local authority in Scotland, however harassed it may be financially, which cannot take a bold step forward in an attempt to rid our land of the great slum curse.
Every local authority with whom we have discussed the matter—with the possible exception of one; I am doubtful about that—is now convinced that under the terms of this Bill it will receive greater benefits and have greater opportunities for improving health and sanitation and housing the poorest of the poor in healthy homes. This legislation does not stand by itself, but it is a complement to the other legislation. It does not abolish the Wheatley Act; it is only a complement to it. It does not abolish the Rural Housing Act; in fact, it abolishes no other Act, and, so far as the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself are concerned, we propose to do everything we humanly can to urge all local authorities to use all their powers under all the Acts on the Statute Book. We believe that there are areas in our country districts with diseases, and housing hells which can only be tackled under the provisions of the Bill which I now commend to the House for a Third Reading.