HC Deb 30 October 1956 vol 558 cc1249-51
54. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent replies he has received from local authorities in Ayrshire and elsewhere in Scotland about his recent circular on Government housing policy.

Mr. J. Stuart

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind the circular on housing subsidies issued on 2nd August with a copy of the statement which I made to the House on 31st July. This circular did not call for a reply. I have, however, received representations against the proposed revision of housing subsidies from twelve local authorities in Ayrshire and from a number of other local authorities elsewhere in Scotland.

Mr. Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reference to twelve local authorities in Ayrshire means that the overwhelming majority of the burghs there, including the Conservative ones, are objecting? Is it his intention to swallow up the increased wages to which he has just referred by increasing rents?

Mr. Stuart

No, Sir. I do not quite understand what the hon. Member is driving at. I am being perfectly frank with him. Twelve local authorities in Ayrshire have objected. There have also been objections from one city, four county councils, eleven large burghs and fifty-four small burghs. However, I have always maintained that it is very difficult to get 100 per cent. agreement.

Mr. T. Fraser

Does the Secretary of State recall that he said in the circular that in future subsidies would be available only for houses for approved needs? Is he to decide what are the approved needs of every local authority in Scotland?

Mr. Stuart

The hon. Member is probably aware that very lengthy discussions have taken place on this subject. I have never suggested that local authorities were in agreement with everything that has been suggested by the Government and the Scottish Office and myself. Nevertheless, we must proceed with this. Details will, of course, come before the House.

Mr. Ross

Last night we listened to one of the Joint Under-Secretaries expressing great praise for Scottish local authorities and saying what a common-sense attitude they had to all their problems. In view of that, what weight is given to their protest about this matter? Does it in any way change the Secretary of State's mind about going ahead with the proposal?

Mr. Stuart

I have said that the proposals will be laid before the House. They will be debated, and it will then be up to the hon. Member to change my mind.