HC Deb 12 June 1934 vol 290 cc1521-3

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will give particulars of the returns made by local authorities up to date to the Department of Health of the number of houses to be erected during the five years 1934 to 1938, respectively, to replace houses unfit for habitation, to accommodate persons living under overcrowded conditions, and for others of the working classes, such as married persons living with relatives, or in sub-lets or in lodgings, and persons desirous of getting married for whom accommodation is not likely to be available?


According to the returns received from all but eight local authorities in Scotland it is estimated that there will be provided during the five years referred to 44,222 houses to replace unfit houses, 24,160 to abate overcrowding, and 6,299 to meet other needs. In addition 1,002 houses have yet to be allocated among these purposes, making a total of 75,683 houses likely to be provided.


May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is satisfied with the total?


I am never satisfied with anything short of perfection, and there are still some local authorities whose programmes I am taking measures to try to increase.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give an estimate of the financial commitments of the Government under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1930, for subsidy in replacing houses unfit for habitation; under the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act, 1933, for subsidy in re-housing persons now living in overcrowded conditions; and which would be incurred by the provision of a subvention to local authorities for housing others of the working classes whose needs cannot now be met?


The estimated financial commitments of the Government are £336,950 per annum for 40 years in respect of houses to replace unfit houses approved up to the 8th June under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1930; and £2,823 per annum for 40 years in respect of houses to abate overcrowding approved up to the same date under the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act, 1933. My right hon. Friend regrets that he is not in a position to give the estimate desired in the last part of the question.


Is it not the case that local authorities in Scotland are not taking advantage of the 1933 Act?


Not very great advantage has been taken of that Act so far as it intends to deal with overcrowding, but my hon. Friend is aware that consideration is being given to the question of further proposals with regard to overcrowding.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has considered the resolution from the annual meeting of the Scottish National Housing and Town Planning Committee at Peebles on 2nd and 3rd March regarding the impossibility in Scotland at present of building houses for the working class at reasonable rents and the inadequacy of the annual Government grant to local authorities under the Act of 1933 for housing low wage earners in overcrowded conditions, and urging more Government assistance; and whether he will now recommend an increased Government grant and also submit proposals for renewal of local authorities' activity upon ordinary housing with suitable Government aid?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, my right hon. Friend is at present actively engaged in considering what additional measures are necessary for the provision of further houses to abate overcrowding in Scotland.


Will my hon. Friend give me a reply to the last part of the question, which I think he must have overlooked?


It is not intended to make special provision' by the State for the supply of ordinary houses. Already several local authorities in Scotland are providing such houses without subsidies.


Would there not be plenty of houses in Scotland if the Irish were all repatriated?