HC Deb 21 June 1955 vol 542 cc1135-6
30. Mr. T. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why he is now refusing to approve the building of houses by local authorities unless these houses are built in accordance with certain economies laid down by his Department.

Mr. J. N. Browne

A relatively small proportion of tenders is rejected, not because of the local authorities' failure to adopt the recommended space standards, but because the prices of the houses are too high.

Mr. Fraser

Will the hon. Gentleman have another look at what his own Department is doing and ascertain if that Department is telling local authorities in Scotland that plans cannot be approved unless the houses are built to an economy standard laid down by the Department?

Mr. Browne

I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's question. I have looked at this matter, and the answer is "No." The standards are not obligatory, and many houses have been approved, at reasonable prices, where the recommended standards are exceeded in one respect or another.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it was reported to me that his noble Friend, now the Minister of State, Scottish Office, informed the Clackmannan County Council that its houses would not be approved unless built to the new economy standards? That may be a misunderstanding, but would the hon. Gentleman look into the matter again, because it would be deplorable if the Department were forcing down the standard of houses against the will of local authorities?

Mr. Browne

I have been in touch with the county council in question, and that is not the case.

Mr. Ross

Besides getting in touch with the county council, will the hon. Gentleman look at some of these substandard houses? He might then change his mind.

Mr. Browne

I will.