HC Deb 07 December 1948 vol 459 cc249-52
13. Mr. Marples

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why he informed a deputation of the Stirling County Council on 11th November that his aim is so to organise the building of houses in Scotland that production moves forward until a house is completed in a year or 18 months, when the Girdwood Report shows that private enterprise houses were being completed in 11.2 months in the last quarter of 1947.

Mr. Woodburn

The Girdwood Report deals with house building in England and Wales and gives no data for Scotland. I made no statement about my aims in regard to the time taken to build houses. I informed the County Council that they should not start additional building until the work in hand had been reduced to what could be completed in a year or 18 months.

Mr. Marples

Does not that indicate that Scottish builders are taking from a year to 18 months to complete a house while it is only taking 11 months in England; and is that not due to incompetence on the part of the authorities in Scotland?

Mr. Woodburn

The hon. Member must not read more into words than they say. In the main, the local authorities in Scotland do not build houses; they are built by private enterprise to the order of local authorities, and clearly, of course, an 18-month to two-year programme is required if there is to be a steady flow of building in any community.

16. Mr. Willis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of permanent non-traditional houses for which contracts have been placed during 1948.

Mr. Woodburn

Orders have been placed during 1948 for 2,492 non-traditional houses.

Mr. Willis

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that with this type of house a reduction in the cost can hardly be expected if orders are not placed on a rather larger scale?

Mr. Woodburn

Orders for these houses are now placed by the local authorities. We are watching the process, and will do everything to assist in regard to the point mentioned by my hon. Friend.

Mr. William Ross

Can the Secretary of State tell us how many of these are aluminium houses?

Mr. Woodburn

One thousand are permanent aluminium bungalows.

18. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to bring the building of new houses in Scotland into balance with the programme for the rest of the United Kingdom, keeping in view their respective needs.

Mr. Woodburn

The size of the housing programme depends on the capacity of the building industry to meet housing needs and the demands of other essential services. The industry is now building at the rate of about 20,000 permanent houses a year, but it has still some 40,000 under construction. The best immediate contribution towards meeting Scotland's housing needs will result from any speeding up which may be possible in the completion of these unfinished houses.

Commander Galbraith

In view of the fact that one house in four in England is built by private builders against one house in 20 in Scotland, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be better in the future to give the private builder more opportunities of building houses in Scotland?

Mr. Woodburn

The hon. and gallant Gentleman seems to be under a misapprehension. Houses are being built by private enterprise in Scotland for letting purposes. I take it that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is referring to the question of building houses for sale. Until the greater need is met, I am afraid we cannot relax the provisions in Scotland.

Mr. Rankin

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask, in view of the fact that the immediate housing target appears to have been attained in the rest of the United Kingdom, if it is possible to take steps to concentrate more actively on the solution of Scotland's housing problem?

Mr. Woodburn

I take it that the housing target to which my hon. Friend refers is the target set by the Coalition Government, which covered presumably the whole of Great Britain. To that extent, of course, Scotland has met its proportion of that housing target, but the needs in Scotland are still very great.

Mrs. Mann

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the inter-war years when private enterprise was unfettered and subsidised, it still built only one house for every four which the local authorities built in Scotland?

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Is the Secretary of State also aware that when private enterprise houses were being built, the local authorities in Glasgow under the Moderate majority built three times as many houses as they are building now under a Labour majority?

Mr. Woodburn

I should think the whole House would be pleased to know that from the point of view of the number of houses, we have beaten all housing records in Scotland this year.

20. Mr. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses for miners and rural workers, respectively, have been allocated to Ayr County for 1949.

Mr. Woodburn

Under the 1948–49 programme, 324 houses were allocated for miners and 74 for agricultural workers. The corresponding figures under the 1949–50 programme will be 200 and 164, respectively.

Mr. Ross

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this still leaves many rural areas and mining villages completely unprovided for?

21. Mr. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many non-traditional permanent houses are to be built in Scotland next year.

Mr. Woodburn

Some 14,500 nontraditional permanent houses are at present under construction and the major part will be built by the end of next year. The wishes of the local authorities concerned will determine how many of the houses included in new tenders in 1949 will be non-traditional houses, but the sponsoring firms should find it possible to start some 6,000 under programmes already arranged.