§ 2. Mr. KIRKWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local authorities have erected houses under the 1930 Act for re-housing purposes; how many local authorities have declined to prepare schemes under the 1930 Act; and what action, if any, is contemplated by the Department of Health to compel defaulting local authorities to proceed with schemes under the 1930 Act?
§ Mr. SKELTON
At the 31st March, 1933, a total of 113 local authorities had received the approval of the Department 1553 of Health for Scotland for the erection of houses under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1930, to accommodate families displaced from unfit houses in their areas, and in addition 43 local authorities were erecting houses definitely intended for this purpose with the aid of the subsidy available under the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924. As regards the econd part of the question, 21 local authorities who had indicated in the general statements submitted by them under Sub-section 2 of Section 22 of the Act of 1930 that there was a need for houses to replace unfit houses in their areas, have not yet submitted proposals specifically intended to meet that need, though some of these authorities are erecting houses under the Act of 1924 which may be used for the accommodation of displaced families. Eight local authorities have not yet submitted any general statement under the Sub-section referred to. As regards the last part of the question, the Department will continue, where necessary, to press local authorities to provide houses required for re-housing purposes, and, if need be, will put into operation their powers under Section 37 of the Act of 1930 in the case of defaulting local authoriies.
§ 3. Mr. KIRKWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the communication from the Socialist party, on behalf of tenants in Scotland, asking for amending legislation, with a view to rents of pre-War houses being reduced to the pre-War level; and what action he intends to take in the matter?
§ Mr. SKELTON
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second, the Government's proposals in regard to rent restriction are contained in the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions (Amendment) Bill at present before the House, which, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, does not contain any provision of the nature referred to. My right hon. Friend does not propose to ask the House to amend the Bill by inserting in it any such Provision.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Then we in Scotland may take it that the Scottish Office is to make no attempt whatever to bring pre-war houses hack to pre-war rents? Is there to be no answer to my 1554 supplementary question? I have to accept it, I suppose.
§ 4. Mr. KIRKWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much money has been given by way of grant to landlords and farmers for the repair of houses occupied by farm and land workers; will he consider publishing an official return showing the number of houses that have been repaired; and what action he intends to take to compel local authorities to carry out legislation with regard to the provision of suitable dwellings for farm workers?
§ Mr. SKELTON
At the 31st December, 1932, the latest date for which returns are available, the amount of grant paid by local authorities in Scotland in respect of the improvement and reconstruction of houses under the Housing (Rural Workers) Acts, 1926–31, was £951,397. The number of houses dealt with under these Acts each year is published in the annual report of the Department of Health for Scotland, and it does not seem necessary to publish a special return. Up to the 31st December last work had been completed on a total of 11,197 houses under the Acts. It is the duty of local authorities under Section 22 (1) of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1930, as often as occasion arises to submit proposals for the provision of new houses for the working classes, and the Department of Health for Scotland have power to secure that local authorities carry out this duty. As the hon. Gentleman knows, however, under the Scottish agricultural system the provision of cottages for farm workers is part of the normal equipment of the farm. Of these cottages there is, generally speaking, an adequate supply in Scotland, and the practical problem is to bring them where necessary up to modern standards. The Department have brought pressure to bear upon local authorities where necessary with a view to action being taken under the Housing and Public Health Acts in the case of houses found on inspection to be unfit for human habitation.