HC Deb 05 May 1936 vol 311 cc1509-10
24. Mr. BARR

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that in the town of Airdrie there are some 104 families who have taken possession of dwelling-houses which have been vacated following the issue of closing or demolition orders, and that some 23 of these have been convicted, and heavy fines and imprisonment imposed for squatting in condemned houses; whether he will prevent further proceedings against those in occupation of these houses; and whether he can hold out the prospect, by legislation or otherwise, of providing State subsidies towards the building of houses to accommodate such families?

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)

Yes, Sir; the position is generally as stated. I have, however, no power to prevent proceedings being taken against persons in illegal occupation of condemned houses. With regard to the last part of the question, the decrowding operations of local authorities under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1935, will, it is expected, release habitable accommodation which will be available, among others, for the class of persons referred to.


Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries to ascertain whether these people who have squatted are desirous and agreeable to pay nominal rent?


I will make such inquiries.


Will the right hon. Gentleman in the meantime co-operate with the local authority in providing that these people should not be prosecuted for securing alternative accommodation, as I understand that it will be a considerable time before any other houses are free?


As the hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware, Parliament has delegated these powers to local authorities, and it is only on representation by local authorities that the law is put into operation, and I must trust, there- fore, the local authorities to deal fairly and justly with the matter.