HC Deb 16 April 1940 vol 359 cc778-80
24. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the obstacles in the way of housing development in Scotland are being removed; and whether he can make a statement as to the present position and the prospects of progress in the near future?

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Colville)

The progress of housing in Scotland is affected by the overriding necessity of conserving the resources of the country for the war effort and by the shortage of timber. The latest complete figures, however, show that 25,523 houses were completed in 1939, of which about 8,000 were completed between the outbreak of war and 31st December last. As regards finance, it has been found possible up to the present to extend borrowing facilities to local authorities in respect of those houses, 28,000 in all, which were under construction at the outbreak of war. As regards timber, I am prepared to consider sympathetically proposals submitted by local authorities for the completion of houses by such alternative methods as will reduce the amount of timber required to a minimum, but the total amount available must in present circumstances be regarded as strictly limited.

Mr. Mathers

Is the right hon. Gentleman endeavouring to make sure that timber is allocated for housing, in preference to being used for what might be described as unessential building during war-time?

Mr. Colville

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Leonard

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that more than 1,000 houses are to be built in Scotland, and is it not more important to import timber for housing than for the packing of whisky?

27. Mr. McLean Watson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements have been made to supply timber for various housing schemes in Scotland; under what circumstances timber is being supplied to local authorities; what quantity is permitted to be used; and whether priority in supply is being given to schemes designed to house workers employed by Government Departments?

Mr. Colville

A bulk allocation of timber has been made available to Government Departments for building purposes, and a quota has been allotted to the Department of Health for Scotland, who have already issued certificates authorising local authorities to purchase supplies for the completion of houses which were roofed over at the outbreak of war. The Department propose to issue further certificates shortly to enable additional houses to be completed. A separate supply of timber has been ear-marked for new houses required for purposes essential to the war effort. It is proposed that in all cases these houses should be erected by alternative methods which restrict the quantity of timber per house to one quarter of the amount normally used.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication as to what material might be used in these houses?

Mr. Colville

We have discussed that matter with the various interests concerned.

29. Mr. R. Gibson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses under erection in Scotland have been completed from 1st January, 1940, to the latest available date; how many were still to be completed; and what were the comparable figures a year ago?

Mr. Colville

Returns showing housing progress in Scotland during the first three months of this year have not yet been received from all local authorities. I regret, therefore, that I am not yet in a position to give the figures asked for.

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