HC Deb 26 November 1946 vol 430 cc1395-6
19. Mr. J. L. Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the increasing number of small houses in the city of Glasgow with a short expectation of life being kept vacant to be offered for sale; and what steps he proposes to take to protect inexperienced purchasers, in urgent need of shelter, against exploitation.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Buchanan)

Would-be purchasers must be guided by their own technical or legal advisers. It is indefensible, however, in the face of the clamant need for accommodation in Glasgow, that houses should be kept vacant for possible sale. Empty houses in all categories should immediately be brought to the notice of the corporation for consideration as to their suitability for requisitioning.

Mr. Williams

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that notwithstanding the provisions for requisitioning, it is common for such houses to remain vacant for periods of from two to four months, and that such offers are made in many cases in order to induce ex-Servicemen to part with their gratuities in exchange for property of very doubtful value?.

Mr. Buchanan

If houses are standing vacant I trust that this Question will draw the attention of the citizens to the fact. They ought not to be standing vacant, and my hon. Friend can take it that the Corporation of Glasgow are very much alive to their responsibilities in this matter.

Mr. McGovern

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a number of single apartment houses of a slum character are being offered, in particular by one firm of house factors, Messrs. Spiers and Knox, who have declared that they will keep them vacant until they get their price for them? An exorbitant price is being demanded for these shameful types of house.

Mr. Buchanan

If there is a vacant house the corporation have the power to request the Secretary of State to requisition. If hon. Members or other citizens know of houses remaining vacant and will furnish me with the particulars I give an assurance that prompt action will be taken.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if it were possible for these houses to be let for a short while after which the owner could be sure of getting them back this difficulty would not arise?

Mr. Buchanan

As I understand the situation in Glasgow, this type of house in a tenement has not commonly been sold hitherto in the same way as has the cottage type. The practice of selling such houses has increased since the war but what I am interested in is whether they are vacant. If they are, and I think they are at all desirable, they should not remain vacant any longer than necessary but should be taken over for human habitation.

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