HC Deb 14 March 1950 vol 472 cc896-7
17. Mr. Boothby

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, owing to the shortage of houses in country districts, he will introduce legislation to provide grants and loans for the reconditioning of existing rural cottages in Scotland.

Mr. McNeil

Local authorities were given power by the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1949, to make grants and loans for the improvement of housing accommodation by private persons in town and country alike.

Mr. Boothby

In view of the announced intention of the Minister of Health to cut down still further the miserable supply of new houses in this country, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that more effective steps should be taken than are possible under that Act to repair houses, at least those in our country districts that can be repaired?

Mr. McNeil

I hope the hon. Gentleman will consider fully this Act and the facilities which it offers, particularly in the situation to which he has drawn attention. I should like to tell him that we are already having a quite considerable number of applications.

Mrs. Mann

Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House that there has not been, and will not be, any intention of cutting down the number of houses in Scotland?

Mr. Snadden

Arising out of the original answer of the Secretary of State, is it not a fact that the loans and grants to which he has referred are given only on condition that a tenancy is created? Is it not a fact that because of that condition reconditioning is being held up in the countryside?

Mr. McNeil

I am not sure that I follow the hon. Gentleman, but if he is referring to the fact that tied houses do not qualify, then, of course, that is the case, and I would strongly uphold it.

Commander Galbraith

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention, then, to deny to the agricultural workers the standard of housing that is available to all those engaged in other industries?

Mr. McNeil

No. It is the intention of the Government to arrange that the provisions of this Act are available to the community and not to the proprietors.

Mr. M. MacMillan

is my right hon. Friend aware that it would be very strongly resented if public money were given to private landlords without tenancies being created in the interests of the farmworkers themselves?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is quite impossible—this is a matter of actual fact—to carry on certain branches of farming without tied cottages, and is it his intention to do away with tied cottages and thereby reduce the volume of food produced in this country?

Mr. Boothby

In view of the unsatisfactory reply, I propose to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.