§ 17. Mr. John Taylor
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take increased powers to deal with house property which has been abandoned by the owners and is falling into disrepair.
Local authorities already have powers under the Housing and other Acts to acquire and improve such properties, to have them repaired, or to have them closed or demolished. My right hon. Friend will be prepared to consider any suggestions the hon. Member may have to make.
§ Mr. Taylor
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that many of the local authorities which have this power are not 194 using it, and that at the moment the problem is one of very gravely and swiftly increasing magnitude? Is not the present position very unfair, both to the tenants, to the absentee landlords, to the local authorities, and, indeed, to Her Majesty's lieges, who are at times in a position of danger from collapsing property? Could the Joint Under-Secretary say whether, at least, he and his right hon. Friend will consider the setting up of a committee to inquire into this matter, provided that it reports quickly?
I am aware of the situation and of all the factors which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, but the powers are there for local authorities to use if they see fit.
§ Captain Duncan
Will my hon. and gallant Friend read the letter in "The Scotsman" today from the Town Clerk of Innerleithen, and will he consider the suggestion made in that letter?