§ 14 and 16. Mr. Kirkwood
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) whether he will take prompt action to remedy the conditions under which bombed-out families from Clydebank are still billeted; whether he will work out a scheme to pool the billeting resources all over the countryside where now towns and villages work independently, and either provide for these victims of enemy action either by building new houses for them in their home town or at least make them comfortable in the evacuation areas;
(2) whether he will endeavour urgently to improve the lot of the hundreds of families bombed out of Clydebank and billeted now for over a year in places as far away as Inverness, often in uncomfortable and unhealthy conditions; and, as many of them are no longer wanted in the receiving areas, are longing to get back to Clydebank, and are 1386 even coming back there themselves to try and get work and accommodation, whether he will speed up the building of new houses for them as being the only way to replace thousands of homes destroyed by bombing?
The number of Clydebank persons billeted outside the burgh has been reduced to about a third of what it was 12 months ago. Of that number the vast majority were billeted in neighbouring areas and a substantial proportion are with friends and relatives with whom they have made private arrangements. All complaints received from billeted persons have been immediately investigated and, where necessary, a visit is paid by a welfare officer of the Department of Health. Every effort has been made to transfer families found to be living in undesirable conditions to other accommodation either in billets or in hostels which local authorities have been encouraged to set up, and if my hon. Friend has any specific cases of hardship I shall be very glad indeed to look into them. I am doing everything in my power to secure the completion of the 314 houses now under construction in the burgh. Over 300 new houses have been completed there since the outbreak of war. I am sending privately to my hon. Friend information as to progress made with repairs to damaged houses.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Arising from that reply, in which the Secretary of State tells the House that 300 new houses have been built in Clydebank, I say that that statement is incorrect. Not a single house has been built in Clydebank since the blitz over 18 months ago, and the town council of Clydebank are absolutely at their wit's end to know what to do to shelter the people who are crowding back into Clydebank. What is the Secretary of State going to do about it?
I did not say that houses had been built since the blitz but since the outbreak of the war, and over 300 new houses have been completed since that date.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
What is the Secretary of State going to do to relieve the strain on Clydebank at the moment? Not a single house has been built, although more than 4,000 houses were destroyed in Clydebank in the blitz. What is the Secretary of State going to do to remedy that situation?