§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
The Debate on the Scottish Housing Bill was adjourned in order that we could discuss the affairs of Halifax and the surrounding districts. I was proceeding to say that since 1918 both inside and outside the House we have heard of the reports of many Housing Committees, and every Secretary of State for Scotland who has presented a Housing Bill has always expressed the hope that that particular contribution would in a large measure solve the housing problems of Scotland. Unfortunately, we know that after all these years we have still a tremendous overcrowding and housing problem to solve. I do not say that the contributions that have been made by various Governments have not contributed in some small degree towards alleviating the problem. I should be delighted if this Bill was going to do all that has been said by it sponsors. To me it is not a perfect Bill. Nothing is perfect in this world. The Measure does not go as far as we would desire.
1965 Housing, as the Under-Secretary of State said yesterday, is largely an economic problem. An individual who has the material resources can get a house provided for him. Therefore, it becomes mainly a poverty problem. The provision of houses for the large mass of our people is a poverty problem. I should not be concerned with the particular colour of the Government if they could secure the objects that the right hon. Gentleman says are going to be accomplished by this Bill. I would pay them every credit, and in the country I should be prepared to admit what they had done towards solving the problem, if they were successful. One knows the tragedies of overcrowding, and they are particularly well known to those who are intimate with working-class lives. I stated in the Committee on the Bill, and I say again, that during the 27 years that I was connected with the building trade as a tradesman I went in and out of working-class houses, sometimes as many as 14 in a day, and I heard the sad stories and the tragedies and saw how the people lived. Those tragedies are desperate in the extreme.
The public conscience has been galvanised into action. The minds of the people are more alert to this problem than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and the provision of decent housing has been the object of various Bills. We find, however, in this Measure as in other Measures that human considerations are not always the considerations that are of paramount importance to certain hon. Members. During the passage of this Bill we have had a deluge of circulars, letters and articles, and we have had pressure from every angle, with the object of trying to get concessions which would have destroyed even any good that there was in the Bill. To the credit of the Secretary of State I must admit that he has refused to be coerced in certain directions. He has taken a line in Committee and in the House that was not altogether pleasing to some property interests. He has not gone as far as we would have wished him to go, but he has in a measure rebuffed those who were unreasonable and who were only concerned with their material interests. Overcrowding must be overcome. In Committee the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers were loth to insert periods of time that would have speeded up the 1966 building of houses, and we were not satisfied with the reasons which were given for the non-adoption of that course.
I should like, with the permission of the Chair and of the House, to quote a letter with regard to a case of overcrowding:Dear Sir,—I should be very pleased if I could see you on Saturday when you Dome home. It is in regard to a new house. There are eight of us in a single end"—That is a single apartment—My eldest girl is 18 years, John is 15, George 13 years, Walter 12 years, Margaret 9 years, and Isabella 3 years. I filled in a form two years ago. I wrote to John Street, and they sent my letter to the Housing Department, so I do not think they are treating my case right. Some nights I have to stay up all night, so I do not think it is a right. I am a discharged soldier with a bad wound. It is rest I need at nights. I shall be pleased if you will write by return and let me know if it is possible for me to see you on Saturday, and oblige, yours faithfully, W. Lovatt.That is the case where eight members of a household, from 19 years to three years of age, with father and mother, are confined to a single-apartment house. Will anyone say that that is the environment in which children should be brought up? I know that those who have attempted to prevent this Bill reaching the Statute Book would in individual cases agree, but in the industrial areas a case like that can be multiplied in every single tenement block. I am afraid that we are not going to get a drive from the Bill which will overcome these tragic difficulties in working-class homes. It has been said at various stages of the Bill that ample provision should be made for sport and recreation in order that the young people who have to live in these areas shall have an opportunity of developing. I represent an industrial division in Glasgow, and I put a question to-day to the Secretary of State as to the number of young people under 16 years who have been prosecuted for house-breaking and theft. This is the answer I got. In 1930, 509 were charged with theft and 181 with house-breaking. In 1931, 566 were charged with theft and 263 with house-breaking, a total of 690 in 1930 and 829 in 1931. In 1932, 742 were charged with theft and 321 with house-breaking, a total of 1,063. In 1933, 758 were charged with theft and 430 with house-breaking, a total of 1,188. In 1934, 1,052 were charged with theft and 552 with house-breaking, a total of 1967 1,604. The number has gone up from 690 in 1930 to 1,604 in a period of five years. That is an appalling state of affairs. It is not due to lack of decency or training in the home, but to the overcrowding conditions under which they live, and the lack of proper facilities for sport and recreation.
A fortnight ago I went down to the courts to deal with some of these cases and I was amazed to find the corridors packed with children from nine to 16 years of age, all charged with house breaking or theft. I went to represent one of the boys who was mentally deficient. We have no right to say that there is any criminal intent, it is the effect of bad environment and lack of opportunity. Sometimes we say, "God protect us from the criminal," but I think that in many of these cases the criminal has a right to say, "God protect us from society," because society sometimes makes the criminal. I welcome every effort which will raise the standard of living and give an opportunity for people to develop. It has been said time and again that while it may be the right type of house it is the wrong type of rent, and that a man and wife and five children should have a house with three or four apartments at a fixed rental. It is said that there is no additional cost when there are extra rooms, but there is the extra cost of fire and heat and furniture and, therefore, it all comes back to the question that while you may provide a house yet, owing to their poverty, people cannot pay the rent and find themselves again on the streets.
From the experience I have had in connection with the housing problem I say that it is the housing interests on the councils which will attempt to sabotage this Bill, as they have attempted to sabotage every Act in the past. When you have owners of property on local authorities their ideas are dominated by their own material interests, and if the Secretary of State is to make a tremendous advance in his time he will require to grapple with this problem in a drastic way and must not be overawed or blackmailed by the housing interests of the country. We have seen these interests trying to baulk the operation of this Bill. I know what they can do. I was driven out of the building 1968 trade because I dared to hold ideas which did not conform to the ideas of property owners and factors in Glasgow. I know the methods they can employ, and I say that if we are to go ahead we must free ourselves from the advice of false friends. I have seen this in connection with this Bill, and I have discussed it with property owners and have heard the harsh words they are prepared to say not only of us but of the Government, whom they feel were not paying proper attention to guarding the interests of property owners in Scotland. Human interests are the only interests which should be considered in this matter. Time after time we have had to ride roughshod over private interests in order to make progress. This Bill, while it does not go all the way or deal so drastically with the problem as we would desire, it does not fix rents on a basis which the unemployed can pay, the subsidies in many cases are not big enough, yet at the same time, so far as it makes any contribution at all to the housing and slum clearance problem, we wish it Godspeed and hope that it will overcome many of the difficulties connected with our housing problem in Scotland.
§ 9.14 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I should like to assure the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) that we are all at one in desiring to put an end to conditions such as he has described. The difference between us is as to which is the best, fairest and most expeditious way of getting rid of these evil conditions. I submit that the surest way of getting rid of the very bad cases in the towns, which we all deplore, is by pursuing the slum clearance programme which has already been put in hand. The Government two years ago set before themselves a very great programme of slum clearance, namely, the aim of getting rid of all the slums in this country within five years. If the Government do that, or anything like it, they will have done a very great deal for housing, and in achieving that task they will have got rid of conditions such as the hon. Member for Shettleston described. I would like to say also that I think there can be none of us who fails to realise that the conditions of our slums may well lead to a great deal of juvenile crime, or as I prefer to call it, juvenile misdemeanour. From that point of view also and from the point of view of building 1969 up character, and enabling the young to make the best of their lives, we all want to do what we can.
My speech to-night will be mainly devoted to an examination of how the Bill is likely to work out in the rural arena of Scotland. I would begin by thanking my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for amendments which will relieve the owner of house property, particularly the rural owner, from the invidious position in which the Bill originally placed him. I refer to Clause 7 as it originally was, which would have laid on him the onus of informing the local authority of any overcrowding that he found in his houses. That would have caused a considerable amount of friction between many owners and their tenants, and I am extremely glad that the Clause has been removed from the Bill. Clause 3 as originally drafted would have placed on the owner the even more invidious task of having to turn out his tenant in a case where the house was overcrowded and the tenant had refused an offer of suitable alternative accommodation. I wish to thank my right hon. Friend for having removed that part of Clause 3.
Then I am pleased, of course, that Clause 3 contains another concession, in that it will allow overcrowding in a house for a period of not more than 16 days in the year, provided that no money passes. That will enable the elder son or slaughter of the family who has gone out to work to come home for the annual fortnight's holiday. But it will not enable the son or daughter who has gone to a university to come home for the university holidays without applying to the local authority for a licence. The Clause dealing with licences empowers the local authority to give them in exceptional circumstances, but it might well be that the officer of a local authority who wished to stick at trifles would say that a holiday of a fixed period, as prescribed by the university, was not an exceptional circumstance for a student attending that university, and it seems to me to be a distinct interference with family life that it should be necessary for a parent to apply to a local authority for a licence to enable a son or daughter studying at the university to come home for his summer holiday or for any period longer than 16 days. Of course it would only be in cases where the return of the son 1970 or daughter would cause the limit of persons in the house to be exceeded. But, as I have pointed out before, I am afraid that one result of fixing these definite standards will inevitably be that if a family is a large one the elder children will tend to leave home sooner than they otherwise might, in order to prevent a house being overcrowded according to the Bill.
Clause 16, or the amendment of it relating to the 16 days, allows only one extra person to be accommodated in the house for that period. That will allow a married sister to come and pay a visit but will not allow the married sister to bring her bairn if the bairn is over 12 months old. A child of that age cannot possibly be left by a mother who cannot afford a nurse to look after it, and that may well make it very difficult for married brothers and sisters, sisters particularly, to pay each other occasional visits as they are wont to do. It may mean that it will be easier for the married sister to come on a visit before her baby is a year old, because up to that age a baby will not count as a half unit and after that age it will. It is not advantageous to the health of small children that they should be taken about on these visits and have to undergo changes of food, of milk and surroundings. Any mother would much prefer to take her child to see her sister after it was a year old rather than before.
I cannot help thinking that this restriction of family intercourse may seem to many people too great an interference with family life. These are days when, so far as I can judge from what I see around me when I am in Scotland, people visit each other much more than they used to do. Travel is cheaper, and on the whole people's incomes are distinctly better than they were formerly. This Bill is going to cause many difficulties in the reciprocal visits which form so happy a feature of family life amongst persons often of quite small means. It may be that people who live in the country receive more visits of that kind than people who live in towns. I can only say that very often when I go to visit a small house in my neighbourhood I find that the house is fuller than usual, because such and such relations have come for the week-end or week or whatever it may be. One rejoices to think of the family intercourse that this means, and that 1971 people who cannot see each other very often are able to make these occasional visits. Another point is that this concession is to be allowed only if no money passes. I cannot dogmatise, but I have been told, and I can quite understand, that when persons whose means are not large pay visits to their relations some money does pass in a way in which it would not pass in the case of wealthier people. I do not think that this point has been discussed on the Bill.
Then I recognise, of course, that in what is now Clause 6 my right hon. Friend has made concessions which will enable those who live largely by letting rooms in the summer or in some holiday season to continue that practice, provided they have the good will of the local authority in doing so. But it seems to me inevitable that that practice will be restricted, because as I read the Clause the local authority will have to fix for each house the additional number of persons that it may hold under licence or during the period of the year which is exempt. That may well prove serious in individual cases. When people live in an isolated house in a rural area and do not have many opportunities of advertising or knowing about and hearing of people who want houses, it may be that they will get only one offer of a tenancy in a year, and if that offer comes from a family with one child too many for the house, according to the standards laid down, it may not prove possible for the occupier or owner of that house to let the rooms at all during that season. Unquestionably the restriction of the lodger industry by the Bill must mean some restriction of the income which that industry has brought into many parts of Scotland, particularly to the Highlands.
Then I come to the question of the inclusion in the Bill of the houses of ploughmen, and of shepherds and gamekeepers and other estate workers whose work obliges thorn to live in a particular house. On the Committee stage we were given figures of the investigation of upwards of 1,000 houses, chiefly of ploughmen, which showed that 38 per cent. consisted of only two rooms. But I am told that in Kinross and Perthshire the great majority of ploughmens' houses have only two rooms, as a third is too small to be counted under the Bill, and the two- 1972 roomed house can accommodate only three persons. But the work of a ploughman, in particular, is a very hard one and demands a man in the prime of life, and a man in the prime of life usually has a young family round him. I know that the occupiers of houses at the time that the Act comes into force are to be exempt, but ploughmen in Scotland change their situations very often, and it will be inevitable that within a short time after the appointed day there must be many ploughmen who will come under the operation of this Measure. I know that no one will commit an offence who has not refused an offer of suitable alternative accommodation, but it seems inevitable that farmers will tend to be chary of engaging ploughmen with families if they have not got a large ploughman's house on their farms, because they know there is not another house available, and it will take years to bring the ploughmen's houses up to the standard which we would all wish to see. It can only be done by the proprietor, and in these days of heavy taxation, particularly death duties, it is made very difficult for proprietors of estates to do all that they might wish. Even with subsidies the improvement of a house means a considerable expenditure by the owner.
This Bill is going to be very difficult to work in regard to the houses of ploughmen, shepherds and those whose employment requires them to occupy a particular house. When we began to discuss these questions in Committee we were given to understand that the right hon. Gentleman had not yet arrived at a decision. He told us that this question of ploughmens' houses was still being investigated and that some exemptions might be made under Clause 4. We were promised more figures. I asked that the inquiry should include not only the houses of ploughmen, but the houses of estate workers. When we came to Clause 4 nothing was said and the question did not arise until we came to Clause 11, when we were told that tied houses would be included. I tried to get the question raised, but was told that that was impossible. The Bill has thus gone through without adequate discussion of what is a most important subject to the ploughmen and other workers, the farmers of Scotland, and the agricultural industry in general.
1973 To-day the right hon. Gentleman tells us that there is another Bill in prospect for the rural areas of Scotland. I am very sorry if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. He did say that we were not at the end of our legislation for rural Scotland. I understood that was housing legislation. If it is the case that further housing legislation is in prospect, why was it necessary to include the rural areas in this Bill? Why did he not leave the matter alone until he had considered it more, instead of bringing the rural areas into a Bill which would seem to have been framed more for the houses in towns? I dare say that my right hon. Friend was surprised to see that I had put down an Amendment to omit rural areas from the Bill. I should not have dreamt of putting it down if it had not been pressed on me by burgh representatives in my constituency, who said the Bill was entirely unsuited to rural areas. However, it was called neither on the Committee stage nor on the Report stage, and we have heard very little about it. I am glad if the right hon. Gentleman does not consider this as the last word in legislation for the rural areas of Scotland, and I earnestly hope that before he commits himself to further legislation on this matter, he will take counsel with more people who are cognisant of the needs in the rural areas.
§ Mr. SKELTON
Unless you included the rural areas, numberless villages which do not consist of tied cottages could not have been dealt with. The argument as to whatever difficulties there may be about farm cottages, is no argument for general exclusion.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I recognise at once that the tied-house problem is only part of the rural problem, and I regard it as the most acute part. If I did not make it clear that the tied-house problem is only part of the problem, I am obliged to my hon. Friend, but the exclusion of rural areas was suggested to me informally by burgh representatives. I recognise that there are villages in rural areas where a great deal of improvement in housing is needed but it ought to be possible to deal with them by existing means, such as grants under the Rural Housing Act or by the Slum Clearance procedure if necessary. I do not think 1974 it is necessary, to apply this further Measure to them.
I wish to add a word to what has been said on the question of compensation to owners of houses which have been declared unfit for human habitation. Last night I ventured to reply to the argument of the Under-Secretary that a house condemned as unfit for human habitation had no value. I pointed out that such a house might have a value for another and less important purpose—for a garage, a furniture store, or an office for instance. I mentioned that I had been told in my own constituency of various cases in which houses which had been condemned as unfit for human habitation, were being used for such purposes. So long as a building is being used for some purpose for which people are prepared to pay rent, that building has a value and its owner is entitled to compensation in respect of it. Only this morning I received a letter from the owner of a house in a Scottish town telling me that a house on which she had recently spent £125 in installing every convenience had been condemned as unfit for human habitation for reasons which she could not understand. She went on to say that the local authority in condemning the house suggested that she should put it to another use, such as storage or something of that kind, for which she considered it unsuitable. That is an interesting instance of how a local authority, in the very act of condemning a house as unfit for human habitation recognised that it had a value for another purpose. That is a matter to which the Government might well bend their minds. They ought to consider whether equity does not demand that the owners of houses, even houses condemned as unfit for human habitation, should be given compensation representing the value which the houses are shown to have or which they may potentially have, for another purpose. It has always been a cardinal principle of the party to which I belong that we should try to achieve social reforms with the minimum of injustice and soreness to other people. I do not feel that the compensation proposals in this Bill can be applied without leaving a feeling of soreness in the minds of many individuals, and I should like to feel that my right hon. Friend was considering the possibility of giving fair compensation to many owners of house pro- 1975 perty whose property is going to be destroyed under this Bill.
While anxious to see everything possible done for the improvement of housing; while anxious to see the Rural Housing Act extended beyond 1938—because it will be impossible in that period to make all the necessary improvements—and while anxious that all these reforms should be carried out at a speed which can be managed without hardship to owners, I feel that this Bill is going to cause much interference with family life in many small homes and that it will be resented accordingly. I feel that it is going to cause injustice to many owners and I am afraid that in these days of shifting population, of greater travel facilities, of changing social and family conditions, it is really impracticable to try to fix the exact number of persons who at any time may sleep in a particular house. I think the Government would have been wiser and would have been more certain of achieving the end of preventing such overcrowding as is injurious to health, if they had stuck to that great campaign for slum clearance which they inaugurated two years ago and in which I wish them every success.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Major JAMES MacANDREW
Most of the points raised by this Bill have been thoroughly threshed out already, and I will not detain the House long but I would like to express the hope that the Bill when it becomes law will fulfil the expectations of the Government. Unfortunately, in dealing with the housing question we are confronted by great difficulties and complications and throughout history it has always been the same. The gradual change in industry, the growth of new industries and the movement of certain industries from one place to another, mean that new houses are required in different areas from time to time. I understand that on Tuesday next we are to discuss the position in the depressed areas and, in connection with this Debate, it is necessary that we should bear in mind the fact that areas which are depressed to-day were prosperous areas but a short time ago and that areas which are prosperous to-day may have been depressed areas in the past. Naturally no one wants to see people in the depressed areas poorly housed but at the 1976 same time we have to be prepared to build new houses in those district to which the industries have moved and that can only be done in the light of the situation as it arises. Nobody not even a superman can foretell what sort of industries are going to be wanted in the future or where they are going to be.
Another problem arises from the fact that as a result of the great advance in private enterprise a great many more motor cars exist now than existed previously. Only a short time ago, the motor car was looked upon as the monopoly of the rich. Nowadays many people own cars who a few years ago would have regarded a motor car as beyond their means. If that increase in the number of motor cars continues, it is only a matter of time before the people for whom houses are being provided will require houses with garages and we shall then be presented with a further difficulty. While on that point may I draw attention to another aspect of the situation with regard to overcrowding. The new roads which have been built and the money which has been spent on existing roads have made the roads generally more satisfactory for bicycles as we must all have noticed, and have also made them much better for motor omnibuses and other forms of transport. People find it easier nowadays to get out into the country and if there happens to be a football match or a race meeting in a particular district far more people are able to attend it. The problem of overcrowding is going to arise again and again in various areas. We discussed for a long time in Committee the question of holiday periods in different districts but it appears to me that the holiday period which is now stereotyped, will tend eventually to spread out over the whole year, as it becomes easier for people to leave the towns and go out into the country and attend race meetings, football matches and so forth.
Those difficulties about houses being built in the various districts in the past have been governed almost entirely by the law of supply and demand. In the past all things were expensive, and consequently political influences endeavoured to reduce the rents of houses for the people, with the result that now the freedom of private enterprise in house building is restricted, and I hope the Government will not put any 1977 unnecessary burdens in the way of private enterprise in house building. Undoubtedly private enterprise in this matter is practicable and, where profits are thought to be likely, private enterprise is always willing to undertake house building. It seems to me that nowadays there is a tremendous reduction in the cost of building, and the erection of houses is not such a problem as it was in the past. Food and clothing and most other things were expensive in the past, but nowadays more people can take advantage of all these things. The question of building is rapidly becoming the same now, in consequence of the great drop in the cost of building, and consequently I ask the Government to use what influence they can in placing as few obstacles as possible in the way of private enterprise in the building industry, because I am certain that a great service not only has been performed in the past, but can be performed in the future by this great industry. I wish in conclusion to express the hope that when the Bill becomes law the results will be of benefit to the country as a whole.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Sir MURDOCH MACDONALD
Like many other speakers in this Debate, I am delighted to find myself in support of this particular Measure, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has brought to this stage. I think it is one of the most desirable Bills that have been brought forward in this House for many years. It is in fact a public health Measure. It is really for the amelioration of the public health of our fellow countrymen, because the prevention of overcrowding is for the purpose of promoting public health, and for that reason I find myself strongly in support of it. At an earlier stage I heard the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) say that he thought the Bill was in error in that it did not compensate sufficiently those whose houses would be declared unfit under it. I do not at all agree with that sentiment. I think it wrong. I think that every step forward necessitates reducing the value of the property of somebody who happens to be affected. Under all the Factory Acts great improvements were introduced at large cost, not to the general public, but 1978 to the particular people to whom those Acts applied. The manufacturers who had buildings had so to arrange them, protect them, and make dispositions in regard to them that it cost them a good deal of money, but they did not come to the Government and say, "Because you are imposing these Acts and improving the health of the people, therefore you ought to compensate us." I think that while, as far as I am aware, this Bill seems to give adequate compensation where compensation is due, it is yet true that when a house is really in an unfit condition for the standard which we are now setting up, it is those who happen to own those houses who ought to suffer, and not necessarily the general public in paying for them.
I would have been better pleased had the Bill been brought in in two parts, and had one part applied to urban areas, to the cities and towns in Scotland, and the other part wholly to the rural areas. I am very much afraid that in the area in which I happen to live the Bill will largely remain a dead letter, for the simple reason that the burden laid upon the local ratepayers will be so great that they will be unable to meet that burden and as a consequence will be unable so to arrange matters that the appointed day on which the Act can come into force cannot be settled. It seems to me that unless the sub-committee to which the Secretary of State referred earlier is appointed and reports quickly, and whatever the report may be, the right hon. Gentleman is able to persuade the Treasury to find money to help the rural areas, and particularly the areas in the Highlands of Scotland, which I think I know so well, this Bill will not really be applicable in the way that it probably will be in the larger towns and the more densely populated areas in the middle belt of the country. I therefore hope the Secretary of State will keep strongly in mind that the rural part of the country is not necessarily for many a long day going to benefit under this Bill, unless further financial provision is made for the rural councils which will have to administer it.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Sir JOHN WALLACE
I should like to say how much I am in agreement with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Major MacAndrew) 1979 when he expressed the hope that the Government would do everything possible to encourage private enterprise in the building of houses. We know how successful private enterprise has been in England, and I feel sure there is still a great work for private enterprise in Scotland in providing the houses that are required there at the present time. I always think long speeches in Third Reading Debates are not particularly helpful, and do not fulfil any useful purpose, and accordingly my own observations will be of the briefest possible character.
The only reason I venture to intervene is that the other day I read the Second Reading speech on this Bill delivered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who in that speech gave some very startling facts regarding housing conditions in Scotland. He told us that nearly half of all the houses in Scotland contained only one or two apartments, and he added that only one-third of the total population, or nearly 1,750,000 people, are living more than two in a room, and nearly 750,000 are living more than three in a room. I think that that has only to be stated in plain language for us all to realise the housing problem in Scotland, and to accept at once the desirability of a Bill of this nature. I congratulate my right hon. Friend upon having reached this stage of the Bill, and also upon having obtained a measure of financial support from the Treasury which reflects credit, not only on himself, but also on the Treasury. The Treasury has contributed in the most generous manner to the financial provisions of the Bill, and although some of us remain dissatisfied with the subsidies which refer to houses built in 1930, we must agree that, upon the whole, the Secretary of State has done his best in the interest of all concerned.
I suggest now that everything in this Measure depends upon the ability of the Scottish Office. I happened to attend a meeting yesterday not far from this House, where a distinguished Member, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) addressed a great convention. He stated in that explicit language of which he is 1980 such a master, that he was willing to enter upon a campaign provided that those associated with him meant business. I suggest that the Scottish Office might take that particular point of view to heart in the application and administration of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has devoted a long time, and all the energies of his Department, to producing this Measure, which has been subjected to considerable criticism and improvement in Committee. Now everything remains with the administration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) made a speech which has been criticised in various quarters, but I do not intend to go into the merits of the various points which he raised. I suggest, however, that, with whatever enthusiasm this Bill may be administered, the various questions put by the right hon. Gentleman demand a certain amount of attention and a definite answer from the Scottish Office. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State introduced the Bill, he stated that five years ahead from that date slums should cease to exist in Scotland. I do not know whether that was only a pious hope—
§ Sir J. WALLACE
If it were something more, if it were a definite promise on the part of my right hon. Friend, I can only assure him that this House and the whole of Scotland will be solidly behind him in getting rid of the slums, which for so long have been a disgrace to and a blemish on the fair name and fame of that country to which we are all so proud to belong.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.