HC Deb 17 April 1951 vol 486 cc1627-9
2. Lord Dunglass

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has confirmed the decision to charge full rent for permanent county council houses to the tenant of a hut in the Burnwood Camp, Carluke, Lanarkshire.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)

The fixing of rents for the huts at Burnwood Camp rests with the county council, who, I understand, had regard primarily to the rents charged for temporary houses in the county.

Lord Dunglass

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that the Department of Health have no discretion and can exercise no influence with the county council in the charging of rents? Does he realise—I am sure he does; he has been there—that the conditions are such in the camp that only one room in each hut can be occupied because the huts are so damp? Is it not a scandal to charge the full rent for the use of one room in an ex-R.A.F. hut?

Mr. Fraser

The position is that local authority rents are not subject to the jurisdiction of my right hon. Friend.

3. Lord Dunglass

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will reverse the decision to classify the Burnwood Camp, Carluke, Lanarkshire, as a temporary housing scheme and condemn the huts as unfit for human habitation.

Mr. T. Fraser

No, Sir. These huts should continue to provide temporary accommodation for some time for people who cannot yet be given permanent houses. The work originally done at this camp has not, however, proved sufficient and at my suggestion the county council are carrying out certain improvements.

Lord Dunglass

I am given to understand that the classification of these R.A.F. huts as a temporary housing scheme prejudices the allocation of permanent houses to the village of Carluke; that is to say, there is a reduction of what otherwise they would have received of, I am told, nearly 60 houses. Is that not intolerable, and ought not this camp, which is quite unfit for human habitation, to be condemned?

Mr. Fraser

Again, the position is that the decision on how many houses will be allocated to the village of Carluke is one for the county council and not for the Secretary of State.

Lord Dunglass

In that case, why is the hon. Gentleman answering this Question if he is not responsible? These Questions have been passed by the Chair and I am given to understand that the hon. Gentleman's Department have responsibility in both cases. Do I understand the hon. Gentleman now to say that the Department have no discretion in either of these two matters?

Mr. Fraser

With respect, the noble Lord is asking supplementary questions which go beyond the Question on the Order Paper, although they are not unrelated. I repeat that my right hon. Friend is not in a position to instruct the county council of Lanarkshire as to how many houses out of their county allocation they should allot to Carluke.

Commander Galbraith

If the hon. Gentleman can make suggestions to the county council concerning the accommodation provided, surely he can make suggestions as to the rent they can charge.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

In any case, what is the use of condemning these huts as unfit for human habitation, since people have to go on living in them because the Government are either unable or unwilling to provide suitable alternative accommodation?

Lord Dunglass

As the answers to these two Questions have been entirely unsatisfactory and unsympathetic, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter at the earliest opportunity.

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