HC Deb 01 June 1937 vol 324 cc826-8
5. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the embarrassment caused to local authorities in Scotland by the continued increase in the cost of house-building materials, he is now in a position to announce measures to meet the difficulties of the local authorities so that housing schemes may not be further curtailed?

8. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from local authorities regarding recent prohibitive increases in the prices of house-building materials; and what action he proposes to take to meet the need of an increase in the present rates of subsidy for the erection and reconstruction of houses in Scotland?

Mr. Elliot

I have received representations about the increase in the cost of building materials from the Convention of Royal Burghs, with whose representatives I have discussed the matter personally, and from certain individual authorities. The Department of Health for Scotland are keeping the position very closely under review, but I am not in a position to add anything to the statement which I made on 23rd March in reply to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers). As the hon. Members will appreciate, the question is closely bound up with other aspects of the housing situation referred to in that statement and presently under consideration.

Mr. Mathers

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very strong desire on the part of the local authorities to have a statement from him; and may we have some indication as to when he is likely to put the local authorities in a position to know exactly where they stand?

Mr. Elliot

I am not aware that the local authorities are very desirous of having a specific statement from me on these points, but I know that they are very desirous of consulting me on these matters, and I am in consultation with them.

Mr. Westwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, after the economies suggested by his own Department, amounting on an average to £41 per house, the average increase in the cost of housing, as compared with four months ago, is from £45 to £75 per house; and that local authorities are now passing resolutions to stop building until they get an indication of the Government's action to deal with these rising costs of housing?

Mr. Elliot

I am in close touch with the local authorities, and I do not think that they do intend to stop housing.

Mr. Westwood

Oh, yes, they do.

7. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the serious shortage of house-building materials in Scotland, involving delay in the completion and extension of housing schemes for the accommodation of slum-cleared and overcrowded tenants; and whether he can account for this shortage on the ground of any scarcity of raw materials or labour in the industries concerned?

Mr. Elliot

I am not aware that there is any general shortage of building materials in Scotland, though my attention has been drawn to the fact that in some areas there is a shortage of building bricks, involving localised delays in the carrying out of housing schemes. It is also true that there have been temporary shortages of steel rods and galvanised wall-ties, but I am informed that this has not had any appreciable effect on building progress. I have had special inquiries made into the question of brick supply, and I understand that production is likely to be increased in the near future. The shortage in brick supplies is not, I think, due to any scarcity of raw material or labour.