HC Deb 18 March 1952 vol 497 cc2094-5
34. Mrs. Mann

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that houses urgently required by those living in sub-lets and lodgings are known to remain vacant for six months and more, awaiting the highest bidder for purchase; and if he will now allow local authorities to requisition such houses, or state what other action he proposes, to deal with this matter.

Mr. J. Stuart

Requisitioning for housing purposes has been in abeyance for nearly three years and I am not prepared to authorise its resumption. As an alternative local authorities have powers to acquire existing houses, and it is for them to judge whether in any particular case they would be justified in doing so.

Mrs. Mann

In view of the fact that there are many young couples with young children being thrown out of lodgings, will the right hon. Gentleman try to persuade the local authorities to use their powers to acquire some of these houses for couples who are in urgent need of accommodation?

Mr. Stuart

If the hon. Lady is referring to Coatbridge in particular, I may say that the Department of Health wrote to the Town Clerk on 6th March on this subject, explaining the procedure, and if the hon. Lady would care for a copy of that letter I should be very glad to let her have it.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a problem not only in Coatbridge but also over the whole of the West of Scotland, and also in many other parts of Scotland? In view of the difficulties which are arising, will the Government reconsider their decision not to support the Bill which is being promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele), to prevent this abuse?

Mrs. Mann

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it plain whether a local authority can take over a house other than for modernisation?

Mr. Stuart

Under Section 61 of the Housing (Scotland) Act. 1950, all local authorities have power to acquire houses—

Mr. Manuel

For modernisation.

Mr. Stuart

—and Exchequer assistance is available under Section 105. These powers could be used as an alternative Lo requisitioning.

Mr. Wheatley

Is it not the case that there is no Exchequer assistance unless the house is being modernised?

Mr. Stuart

I should like to look into that point.