HC Deb 21 January 1947 vol 432 cc17-8
23. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the reason for the decline in the numbers of permanent and temporary houses, respectively, built in Scotland during the latter part of 1946; whether it is anticipated this decline will continue; and if he will make a full statement on the position, in order to relieve the anxiety of local authorities and the increasing numbers of people who desire houses.

Mr. Buchanan

While owing to difficulties in the supply of materials and components, the number of houses completed in the latter part of 1946 was fewer than I had hoped for, the monthly average for the last three months was 571 permanent houses and 1,337 temporary houses compared with 244 and 901, respectively, for the previous nine months. As regards the latter part of the Question I would ask the hon. Member to await a White Paper which is shortly to be issued on the housing programme for 1947.

Mr. Stewart

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House whether, since the number of temporary houses fell steadily from September to November to about half, the same doleful picture is likely to appear in December?

Mr. Buchanan

I have compared the figures for the last three months with those for the previous nine months and they do not show a fall. It may well be that if one takes out one month and compares it with another, a fall may be shown. One reason for the recent numbers may be that sites are short. We could not go into a large number of sites because they were under tillage, and it takes some time to service and slab a site. That may be one of the reasons why temporary houses are not proceeding so fast.

Major Lloyd

Would the hon. Gentleman be prepared to say quite frankly and with his customary honesty that he is just as disappointed and disillusioned with the facts as the Scottish people are?

Mr. Buchanan

I am somewhat taken aback at that description. I am always disappointed with anything in housing unless—[Interruption.]Yes, and who would not be unless everyone was housed? No matter how great the figures were I would still be feeling worried. At no time in my political life have I ever felt happy about any of these matters. All I can say is that in the circumstances and the difficulties—many as they have been—our record these days in the matter is not an unhappy one.