HC Deb 15 June 1937 vol 325 cc182-3
25. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the fact that over 250,000 houses are still required to replace unfit dwellings in Scotland and that, owing to the present condition of the building trade, it will not be possible to erect more than some 25,000 houses per annum, he can state what special steps he proposes to take to encourage temporary reconstruction and reconditioning in order to improve the present position?

Mr. Wedderburn

In view of the present pressure on the supply of building trade labour in Scotland, my right hon. Friend is not satisfied, on the information at present before him, that a policy of temporary reconstruction and reconditioning would make any material contribution to housing needs, but, following representations made to him by the Convention of Royal Burghs, he is making further inquiries on the subject.

Sir T. Moore

Does not my hon. Friend consider it lamentable that, in this vital part of our social services, Scotland should lag behind England?

Mr. Wedderburn

The question relates to reconditioning, and I ought to point out that this is likely for the time being to reduce the available accommodation, and also to divert a great deal of labour from the building of new houses, which must be our principal object.

21. Mr. Kennedy (for Mr. Westwood)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of authorities who have indicated that they cannot proceed with their housing schemes because of the rising costs and the need for increased housing grants; the number of authorities who have stopped schemes of building and the total number of houses involved; and what action, if any, he proposes to meet the demands of the local authorities?

Mr. Wedderburn

Eight local authorities have indicated to the Department of Health that they propose to postpone further housing developments involving approximately 1,584 houses. With regard to the latter part of the question, I regret that I am not in a position to add anything to the statement which my right hon. Friend made on 23rd March in reply to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers).

Mr. Davidson

Cannot we have an assurance from the Scottish Office that at least they will consult these local authorities, with a view to removing these difficulties in regard to housing?

Mr. Wedderburn

We have been in continual consultation with them for several months, and that has been stated in reply to questions several times.

Mr. Mathers

In view of the statement made by the Secretary of State for Scotland that he was again getting in touch with the representatives of the operatives, may we have some indication when a further statement on this matter is likely to be made?

Mr. Wedderburn

I do not think that it would be useful for me to say anything on that point until a definite decision has been arrived at, but I have every reason to be hopeful from the attitude which is being taken by the various authorities.