HC Deb 15 February 1938 vol 331 cc1684-5
42. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is contemplating any revision of the housing subsidies in Scotland; and, in particular, whether he proposes to increase the subsidy of £6 15s. per house granted under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1935?

57. Mr. Westwood

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, as a result of his discussions with the local authorities, he has any statement to make as to the rates of Exchequer subsidies that will be payable to local authorities after 31st March, 1938, under the Housing (Scotland) Acts, 1930 and 1935?

Mr. Elliot

Following discussions between the Department of Health and a special sub-committee appointed by the three associations of local authorities, it is my intention to submit to Parliament a draft order designed to continue the existing rates of subsidy under the Acts of 1930 and 1935 The discussions with the sub-committee will continue, with a view to examining proposals made by the sub-committee for a revision of the subsidies to take effect from 1st January, 1939. I am advised that, according to the Act of 1935, the draft order must relate to the whole of the period from 31st April, 1938, to the date of the next triennial revision, but this would be without prejudice to any decisions arrived at after the examination referred to.

Mr. T. Johnston

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that since the housing subsidies were fixed by the Act of 1935 the cost of building the average house in Scotland has gone up by over £110 and that the rate of interest on borrowed money has also increased, so that there is a strong case for the revision upwards of the subsidy?

Mr. Elliot

These considerations are being pressed on me very strongly by the local authorities.

55 and 56. Mr. Buchanan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) the total number of houses built by the Glasgow Town Council during the past year, and how this number compares with the previous year;

(2) whether the progress made in the building of houses by the Glasgow Town Council during the past year has been satisfactory to the Department of Health; and whether any steps are being taken to increase the building of houses in view of the bad housing conditions which are now prevalent in the city?

Mr. Elliot

The corporation completed 1,841 houses in 1937 and 1,985 in 1936. I am not satisfied nor, I am sure, is the corporation, with this slow rate of progress, which has resulted mainly from the shortage of skilled building labour and to some extent of materials. There are signs, however, that more plentiful supplies of labour and materials are now becoming available and as the corporation are expediting the initial work of purchasing land, preparing plans, and constructing roads and sewers, they should be in a position to take full advantage of every improvement in the situation as it occurs. In addition, they propose to make experiments in the building of concrete and timber houses. I am in constant touch with the corporation and will continue to take every possible step to expedite housing progress in the city.

Mr. Boothby

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the Glasgow Corporation are, in fact, doing everything that lies in their power to expedite building?

Mr. Elliot

I am not satisfied with any local authority or, indeed, with my own endeavours as long as the situation remains as it is.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Glasgow Corporation, in a recent by-election, placed their housing policy before the people in a certain area, and that the Labour candidate was returned by an overwhelming majority?

Mr. Buchanan

If that is the defence for keeping slums, then I give it as a present to the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson).