HC Deb 23 February 1960 vol 618 cc184-5
39. Mr. Millan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he is taking to encourage local authorities to build larger size houses.

Mr. Maclay

Local authorities are free to build whatever sizes and types of houses they consider necessary to meet the needs of their areas.

Mr. Millan

Is the Secretary of State aware that only 26 per cent. of the houses built by local authorities in Scotland are four-apartment or five-apartment, compared with 73 per cent. built in the six years from 1945 to 1951? Does not he think that the present position is thoroughly unsatisfactory, particularly when we consider Scotland's history of overcrowding? Will the right hon. Gentleman do something about this and, in particular, consider the restoration of the subsidy differential according to the size of the house?

Mr. Maclay

The answer to part of the hon. Member's supplementary question is "No." My own view is that we concentrated too much on the larger houses for too long. The hon. Member may be interested to know that an analysis of a representative sample of 1,000 households which my Department made recently showed that over 75 per cent. of the households required houses of three apartments or less.

Mr. T. Fraser

How on earth can the Secretary of State say that we concentrated for far too long on large houses? Does he realise that we have far worse conditions of overcrowding in Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom or most other parts of Europe? Does not he realise that even people in Scotland who support him and his party take the view that we should not have departed from the differential subsidy so that we could provide an inducement for local authorities to provide the houses needed in their areas?

Mr. Maclay

The real answer is that we want more houses but not necessarily larger houses. That point is very important. Had we had more even of the three-apartment and two-apartment houses, we might have been able to clear up some of the overcrowding problems more quickly by a proper process of decanting.

Mr. McInnes

Is the Minister aware that the bulk of the pre-war houses are grossly overcrowded even on his own figures?

Mr. Maclay

The answer is that we need more houses, which is why we are going on building.