HC Deb 17 November 1953 vol 520 cc1548-9
8. Mr. McInnes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that 1,500 houses, privately owned and previously occupied by tenants, have been lying unoccupied for many months in Glasgow awaiting offers to purchase at high prices; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that these houses are made available now for letting.

Commander Galbraith

I have no information about the precise number of unoccupied houses awaiting sale in Glasgow. As my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mrs. Cullen) on 10th November, he hopes that the proposals in the Government's White Paper on Housing Policy and the increase in the number of new houses being built for letting will contribute to the solution of this problem. Apart from this, local authorities already have powers to acquire houses and to make them available for letting.

Mr. McInnes

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the figures quoted in the Question are definitely accurate and are provided by the Glasgow Corporation? Is he also aware that the proposals contained in the White Paper will not in any way remove the difficulty, and that to have 1,500 houses unoccupied in the City, where the demand is greater than anywhere else, is anti-social and a challenge to society? I hope that he will ask his right hon. Friend to deal with the matter and not clown around with it

Commander Galbraith

Whilst I do not dispute the figures the hon. Gentleman has quoted, they are disputed, I understand, by the Factors' Association as being far too high. With regard to the second point, I hope that the hon. Member will be disappointed and that the new housing programme will be very beneficial in this direction.

Sir W. Darling

Will the Minister encourage the people of Glasgow to purchase their own houses which, I understand, many of them want to do?

Mr. McGovern

Is the Minister aware that it is being planned already to organise the houseless tenants in Glasgow to occupy these houses forcibly, and can he say why the tenants in Glasgow are deprived of the opportunity of having houses and whether the house factors are justified in having 1,500 houses lying idle?

Commander Galbraith

I am quite certain that the citizens of Glasgow will stand by the law.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that in a town that is so desperate for houses this is becoming something of a public scandal? Will his right hon. Friend not look into the question and see whether something cannot be done to stop these people holding poor folk up to ransom and forcing them to buy houses at prices far beyond their means?

Commander Galbraith

I would not accept everything that the right hon. Gentleman has said. For the moment my right hon. Friend does not feel justified in taking action.