HC Deb 09 November 1937 vol 328 cc1586-9
61. Mr. Westwood

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has considered the copies of the resolution passed at a conference of local authorities held in Central Hall, Glasgow, on 30th September, dealing with materials used in house building; the need of increasing, through the recognised machinery, the labour available for house construction; the necessity for reviewing and increasing the subsidies under the Housing Acts of 1930 and 1935, and the need for financial assistance towards the erection of houses to meet the needs of others not covered by the 1930 and 1935 Housing Acts; and what action does he propose to meet the claims of the local authorities?

Mr. Elliot

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on this subject to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) on and November.

66. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will state for each of the ranges of rateable value represented by Classes A, B, and C, the number of houses controlled under the Rent Restrictions Acts; the number of houses which have become decontrolled; and the number of houses which have never been controlled under these Acts?

Mr. Elliot

Estimates made in 1932 of the numbers of controlled and decontrolled houses are published in a memorandum (Cmd. 4208), of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy. I regret that up-to-date figures are not available.

Mr. Mathers

Is any effort being made to get up to date figures in order to assist in the preparation of new and improved rent restriction legislation?

Mr. Elliot

I am not aware that the Rent Restrictions Committee has asked for such figures, but I will make inquiries if the hon. Member desires.

67. Miss Horsbrugh

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the demand for better provision to meet the housing needs of elderly couples in Scotland; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. Elliot

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part, I asked the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee to consider, in relation to the probable effect of the operations of local authorities under the Housing (Scotland) Acts, 1930 and 1935, the question of the rehousing of aged persons, and in particular of aged married couples, who are living under in-sanitary or overcrowded conditions; and to advise what administrative action should be taken by the Department to ensure that the most suitable provision is made for the accommodation of such persons.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Is that report to be published, and, if so, how long does my right hon. Friend imagine it will be before we shall see it?

Mr. Elliot

I should not like to give an estimate, but I hope I shall be able to publish the report.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that under the present Act old couples as well as newly married couples are banned from getting into a new house? Is he not aware of that?

70. Mr. Cassells

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that many married persons with their families are compelled, due to shortage of housing accommodation, to live in tents at a point near Loch Lomond; and, in view of the approach of winter, what steps he intends to take for suitable accommodation being made available to them?

Mr. Elliot

I am informed that there are 15 families living in tents and huts at Millburn. Alexandria, and that the county council's by-laws regulating tents, vans and sheds are being contravened in respect of overcrowding, the use of tents which are not rainproof, and the inadequate provision of sanitary conveniences. With regard to the last part of the question, the rehousing of the families concerned is, as the hon. Member will remember, a matter for consideration by the local authority.

Mr. Cassells

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that notices of removal have been served on each of these persons by the local authority; and, in view of the near approach of winter, is not the right hon. Gentleman prepared to bring pressure to bear from his Department upon the local authority immediately concerned?

Mr. Elliot

It would be most improper for me to interfere with the administration of the local authority in this respect which has been entrusted to them by Parliament.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is the Secretary of State aware that a conference has been called regarding this terrible tragedy of people having to live in tents when they are faced with a Scottish winter? Will the Minister use his influence in the Vale of Leven in order to see that these people are properly housed and not shut out with nowhere to lay their heads?

Mr. Elliot

It is my desire that these people should be properly housed, but the local authority must consider these cases with other applications for houses which are also before them.

73. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland approximately the increase in the costs of house building for the working classes in the rural areas of Scotland since 1930?

Mr. Elliot

The estimated average all-in cost of three-apartment houses built in rural districts during 1937 is £493: the corresponding figure for 1930 is £400. It is estimated that the larger superficial area of the houses built in 1937 accounts for £25 per house, leaving an increase of approximately £68 per house due to increased costs.

74. Mr. Stephen

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the houses at 5, Comely Park Terrace and 35, Comely Park Street, White-vale, Glasgow, are in a complete state of disrepair, and that the tenants complain that they are infested with rats and bugs; when a demolition order is to be issued with regard to the houses; and when suitable housing accommodation will be provided for the people concerned?

Mr. Elliot

I am informed by the corporation that the structural defects in the houses are only of a minor character, but that they will be brought to the factor's notice immediately for attention. The bag infestation in the houses is in furniture and bedding and the corporation are prepared to assist the tenants to eradicate it. One tenant complained of the presence of rats, and this matter is receiving the corporation's attention. With regard to the last part of the question, I am informed that the corporation are satisfied that, although the houses contain undesirable features, they are not in a condition which would warrant action being taken under the Housing Acts.

Mr. Stephen

Has the sanitary inspector visited these houses? I have, and they are simply terrible.

Mr. Elliot

Yes, I understand that that was a report made after an inspection.

Mr. Kirkwood

The Minister has said that the bugs are in the furniture and bedding, and the inference is that the people in the houses are to blame. Is the Minister aware that the bugs are in the plaster, and that there is no means of getting rid of them except by demolishing the houses?

Mr. Elliot

I do not think that that is so. I do not think any imputation has been made against the tenants in the answer I have given.