HC Deb 29 February 1944 vol 397 cc1239-40
34. Major Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is considering ways and means of simplifying the procedure for the approval of building plans by his Department, and a view to avoiding delays in obtaining decisions.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. Johnston)

I am always willing to simplify and expedite procedure with a view to the avoidance of delays, but I am not aware that avoidable delays are in fact taking place in the approval of building plans. The plans of the 1000 houses included in the 1943 programme were approved within a day or two of their receipt by the Department of Health, and the Department have offered to supply plans to those authorities sharing in the new programme of 1,000 houses, who do not already have plans of their own. But if the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, I shall be glad to look into it.

Major Lloyd

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this Question has been put as a result of the pre-war experience of local authorities and not as a result of recent experience, of which my right hon. Friend has every reason to be proud and satisfied?

Mr. Johnston

I cannot answer the hypothetical question about pre-war conditions. I am dealing with the position to-day.

38. Major Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements are in contemplation to facilitate the construction of houses by private enterprise on the largest possible scale immediately sufficient labour and material are available; and whether he will give immediate consideration to a revision of the present rating system.

Mr. Johnston

I am asking the Scottish Housinģ Advisory Committee to consider the measures required to encourage the provision of houses for owner occupation. This inquiry will be closely associated with the work of the Committee on Valuation and Rating, under the chairmanship of the Dean of Faculty, who are considering the effect of the existing system of rating on the provision of houses, and whether it is practicable and desirable to limit the maximum amount payable in respect of owners' rates.

Major Lloyd

Would my right hon. Friend accept the statement that until something definite is done in this direction no progress can be expected by private enterprise in Housinģ?

Mr. Johnston

I do not think I can accept that as a complete statement. The Dean of Faculty's Committee is considering the particular point about rating, which is of major importance.

Mr. McKinlay

During the last 30 years of Scottish Office control of Housinģ by people not unfriendly to landlords, is it not a fact that private enterprise could not substantiate its claim?

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the very serious condition that exists in Housinģ, would it not be desirable to keep Housinģ programmes under the control of local authorities and of the Secretary of State, and to keep private enterprise people out of them altogether?

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