HC Deb 21 March 1950 vol 472 cc1740-2
16 and 19. Mrs. Mann

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will give his estimate of completed permanent houses in Scotland for 1950, 1951 and 1952; and state how far the house-building programme will be accelerated, compared with 1947. 1948 and 1949;

(2) what further steps he proposes to take to ensure that all local authorities build houses at the greatest speed commensurate with the labour and materials at their disposal.

Mr. T. Fraser

With permission. I will answer this Question and No. 19 together. The rate of house building depends on the resources available from time to time. My right hon. Friend does not propose to make forecasts of future trends, but he hopes that the improvement in the number of permanent houses completed which took place in 1949 will be maintained. To ensure continuity of employment, he is arranging to make additional allocations of houses to local authorities throughout Scotland towards the end of this month.

Mrs. Mann

Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that permission was asked to reply to Questions Nos. 16 and 19 together? I object to permission being granted, because Question No. 19 is an entirely different one from Question No. 16, and I want separate replies. May I respectfully ask that separate replies be given?

Mr. Fraser

May I point out, Sir, that I asked permission to give a composite reply; there were no objections and I gave a composite reply. There seems to be nothing to prevent my hon. Friend from putting a separate question on the subject of No. 19 as against No. 16.

Major Guy Lloyd

Is the hon. Gentleman fully aware that it is notorious that the house-building programme in Scotland is falling behind while the demand is rising and there is an overwhelming demand for houses? The number which it is intended to be built during the period mentioned in Question No. 16 will be lower. Is the hon. Gentleman fully aware of the fact that everyone in Scotland knows it? Why did he not tell the House that under this Government's programme housing in Scotland will fall?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Does my hon. Friend think there is a possibility of married quarters for miners being finished by 1955?

Lord Dunglass

Will the hon. Gentleman give the figures to show whether the number of houses proposed for the next two years is rising, or falling? I think he knows that in the county of Lanarkshire it will take over 20 years to overcome the housing shortage and that next year's programme is far below that of 1949?

Mr. Fraser

The noble Lord talks about the programme for the next two years. We have not stated a programme for the next two years. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Government dare not."] Each year, when we consider the capital Investment White Paper, hon. Members have an opportunity of saying that they think the building resources mentioned should be turned from some other purpose to housing, but they never take the opportunity.

Mrs. Mann

On a point of Order. I objected as quickly as I could to the two Questions being answered together. May I ask my hon. Friend whether he thinks that there are reactionary authorities who are not giving their maximum output, and if he is aware that they are sheltering behind the Government on that score? Does he propose to do anything about those local authorities?

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Before the hon. Gentleman passes from Question No. 16, surely he knows that the Minister of Health, on behalf of the Government, gave a forecast for two years of the housing programme for the country as a whole, which was a standstill for this year and a cut for next year? He must be able to interpret just how that applies to Scotland.

Mr. Fraser

I agree with my right hon. Friend, who is very hopeful that the rate of completing houses in Scotland will not decline as far as we can look into the future. In regard to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann), so far as I am aware, the number of houses being completed in any area in Scotland is not being restricted by anything which my right hon. Friend or his Department are doing at present.