HC Deb 15 March 1955 vol 538 cc1113-4
35. Mr. McInnes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that there has been an increase in the percentage of houses built in England and Wales in 1954 as compared with 1953; what the percentage decrease in the number of houses built in Scotland has been for the same period; and what is the reason for the decrease in Scotland.

Mr. J. Stuart

There was an increase of 10.6 per cent. in England and Wales and a decrease of 2.3 per cent. in Scotland. Output in the Scottish industrial areas, where housing needs are greatest, was maintained in 1954. The decrease for the country as a whole arose mainly from the fact that a number of the smaller local authorities, nearing the end of their programmes, have either stopped or are slowing down the rate of building. In Scotland there has been no substantial expansion of private building as in England and Wales.

Mr. McInnes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last year 30,000 more houses were completed in England and Wales, whereas there was a decrease in house building in Scotland? Is he aware that in Scotland, which is the worst housed country in Europe, building contractors are today dispensing with their building labour forces? What steps does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take to avoid severe unemployment in the building industry in Scotland?

Mr. Stuart

As I said in my answer, I admit that there was a decrease, because private building in England has increased by 52 per cent. whereas, to my regret, in Scotland it has increased by only 4.4 per cent. Added to that, 79 authorities in Scotland are drawing to the end of their programmes.

Mr. Brooman-White

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the difficulties and the threat of delays in house building in Scotland are greatly increasing in the most heavily built-up areas owing to the lack of sites and that it is by no means right in every case to throw the blame on the Scottish Office? Will he make sure that local authorities do their best to think ahead on this problem and work in co-operation with his Department?

Mr. Stuart

We realise the difficulties and are endeavouring to assist local authorities.