HC Deb 08 March 1955 vol 538 cc152-3
68. Mr. N. Macpherson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what guidance was given to local authorities in 1950 and 1952 regarding the housing of Regular Service men with families on their release from the Forces; and the nature and extent of the inquiries he made recently on this matter.

Mr. J. Stuart

A circular issued in 1950 recommended that in the letting of local authority houses, a Service man should be treated as having been resident in the district throughout his period of service. A further circular, of March, 1952, suggested that no application from a Service man or his family should be refused on residential grounds, and asked authorities to make arrangements accordingly.

A sample inquiry made in June, 1954, showed that of 59 local authorities, the majority either gave special consideration in varying degrees to Service men or had no Service applications. In addition my Department, by special arrangement with Scottish Command, takes up with the local authorities concerned any cases of difficulty.

Mr. Macpherson

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that answer, may I ask whether he is aware that there is a wide disparity in treatment by local authorities, and that quite often there are no ex-Service applications on his list at a given time? Since this is a matter of national rather than local importance, does my right hon. Friend not consider that it is vital for him to give clear guidance to local authorities in the matter?

Mr. Stuart

I can say for once with a clear conscience—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] It is very comforting to have a clear conscience. I know that my predecessor had issued a circular, but owing to representations which were made to me personally in my constituency from the regimental depot of the Seaforth Highlanders, I took up this matter personally and issued a circular in March, 1952. I think the position is perfectly clear to local authorities, and I do not think that there are grave difficulties. If there are any cases of difficulty, I shall be very glad to do my best in the matter.