HC Deb 22 November 1960 vol 630 cc949-50
8. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will adopt the principle of granting subsidies for the building of two-bedroom houses for aged couples where the local authorities want to build this type of house for their old people.

Mr. Maclay

While I should be prepared to consider such proposals where an authority can point to special circumstances, I should normally expect the housing needs of old people to be met by smaller houses more suited to their requirements.

Mr. Manuel

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many people in Scotland, including the more progressive local authorities, will be shocked by that Answer? Does he not regard a one-bedroomed house as quite unsuitable for an old couple when illness occurs? Will he bear in mind the fact that hospital accommodation is often overtaxed because, when an elderly person becomes ill, a daughter cannot move in and so the elderly person has to be taken to hospital? Will he live up to what he says about the man in Whitehall not knowing best and allow local authorities to decide the type of house which they will build?

Mr. Maclay

As I have said before, I recognise that there are some elderly households where two bedrooms are required, and I am quite ready to consider any special cases put to me by local authorities which find that they have a relatively large number of such households to provide for.

Equally, however, I am sure that there are many cases where elderly people are very pleased indeed to have the smaller type of house.

Miss Herbison

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that if local authorities know the needs of their areas, it would be a good thing to allow them to build two-bedroomed houses for old people? Is he not aware that many old people like occasionally to have their families staying with them? Why should they be denied that comfort in their old age? Why should they be denied the comfort of having someone to live with them when they are ill? Does he not agree that in many ways it would help if two-bedroomed houses were supplied?

Mr. Maclay

I have already made it clear that I am prepared to be flexible in my approach, but I repeat that there are many cases in which elderly people want to have the smallest practicable house, although there may be cases where it is desirable to have diversity of accommodation.

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