HC Deb 14 March 1950 vol 472 cc897-9
18. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to speed up the building of houses in Ayrshire.

Mr. McNeil

Some 7,600 new houses, permanent and temporary, have been completed by Ayrshire local authorities since the war; 2,700 permanent houses are under construction; and about 600 more have been authorised but not yet begun. The local industry has, therefore, enough work on hand to keep it fully engaged throughout 1950. To maintain continuity I hope shortly to make further allocations of houses to the authorities concerned.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Secretary of State aware that the whole economic development of the Ayrshire coalfield depends upon the speed-up of housing, and will he do everything possible to give us the necessary labour and materials to get this speed-up?

Mr. McNeil

I am anxious to assist in the process, but I think I should say to my hon. Friend that there are at least 11 housing authorities in this county that have not yet submitted tenders invited last year.

Mr. Manuel

Is my right hon. Friend aware or the deplorable housing conditions suffered by many hundreds of people in the Irvine and Stewarton district of Ayrshire, who are occupying old Army huts and have not decent conditions at all?

Sir Herbert Williams

Will the cottages be reserved for the use of miners?

Mr. McNeil

The allocation of cottages will be a matter for the various housing authorities.

Mr. Bossom

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many are on the waiting list in Ayrshire?

Mr. McNeil

Not without notice.

34. Mr. McGovern

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any statement to make as to the policy he intends to pursue or plans already devised to make a rapid speed-up in our house-building programme in Scotland, and especially in the Glasgow area.

Mr. McNeil

The rate at which houses can be built is determined by the resources of the building industry, and with 29,000 houses in Scotland under construction and 8,000 more in approved contracts not yet begun, the industry, it would seem, has already enough work in hand to keep it fully occupied at the present rate of construction throughout 1950. To maintain continuity I am pressing local authorities to submit outstanding tenders, and propose shortly to intimate further allocations of houses to them. In making allocations to Glasgow Corporation, I have taken account of the city's special needs.

Mr. McGovern

At this stage, in view of the most difficult situation in Glasgow, would the Secretary of State consider having a conference of the local representatives and the Members of Parliament for the Glasgow divisions, with a view of seeing whether something could be done to speed up the fulfilment of the housing programme?

Mr. McNeil

Certainly I shall be glad to consider such a proposal.

Major Guy Lloyd

At the same time, bearing in mind the grave dissatisfaction and frustration felt by all the local authorities in Scotland with the Government's policy on housing, would the Secretary of State call a conference of all local authorities throughout Scotland to try to remove political prejudices, and to see whether they cannot give him some good advice?

Mr. McNeil

I am hopeful that these political prejudices will start removing themselves from the benches opposite first of all.

Mr. Fernyhough

As the short supply of timber is one of the limiting factors, does not my right hon. Friend think it would be very helpful if we put the wooden heads of the Opposition together?