HC Deb 10 July 1963 vol 680 cc1233-5
27. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of Slate for Scotland what was the average price per acre paid by Scottish local authorities for land for housing development in 1950, 1957 and 1962.

Mr. Noble

I regret that this information is not available. Local authorities are not obliged to report to me the price they pay for housing land.

Mr. Manuel

Nevertheless, is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the announcement in the Glasgow Herald of 4th July that his Scottish Development Depart- ment proposes that housing land prices be increased for new town development from between about £120 and £150 to £900 to £1,500? Will not this aggravate the problem, already increasingly difficult for local authorities, of providing housing in new towns? By what right has he given his Department authorisation to make this proposal?

Mr. Noble

I think that the hon. Member has misread the article in the Glasgow Herald. It did not refer to housing land.

Mr. Brewis

Has my right hon. Friend any evidence that land prices are hindering local authorities in their housing programmes?

Mr. Noble

I have no evidence of that because in Scotland when local authorities have to build on expensive land they may be assisted by the expensive site subsidy which we introduced in the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1962.

Mr. Ross

If the purchase of this land was not for housing, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the purpose was? Did that purpose justify the addition to the original price?

Mr. Noble

The addition is not for houses but for other things such as factories or schools. In this case it is only fair that the development charges, which the development corporation has undertaken, should be taken into account in the setting of land values whatever use there may be.

28. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what were the total capital expenditure and the total interest charges paid by Scottish local authorities for the provision of municipal houses in 1950–57 and 1962.

Mr. Noble

I shall, with permission, circulate these figures in the Official Report.

Mr. Manuel

The Secretary of State's answers get briefer and briefer and contain less and less information. Is he aware that because of the Government's stingy and mean policy, because of their increased interest charges and cutting of housing subsidies, Scottish local authorities are undoubtedly getting into a complete morass of debt and that this in itself will curb the building of more houses in future? Will he not do something to ease this financial position for the local authorities and make it easier for them to provide houses?

Mr. Noble

I never expected to hear an hon. Member complaining about Answers being short. The fact of the matter is that local authorities are building about 26,000 houses this year compared with 21,000 last—these are figures for the end of March—and, as I explained in the debate last week, the view of the Government is that if subsidies are to be given they should be given openly as subsidies and not by means of an unduly low interest rate.

Sir J. Gilmour

Will my right hon. Friend say whether, judged by the number of houses being started, interest rates are in fact hindering house building?

Mr. Noble

There is certainly no evidence of that from the figures which I have just given.

The available figures relating to expenditure of Scottish local authorities on municipal housing are as follows:

Year Total capital expenditure Total interest paid
£ millions £ millions
1949–50 31.9 Not available
1950–51 33.3 Not available
1951–52 40.7 7.3
1952–53 48.7 8.6
1953–54 52.8 11.2
1954–55 47.7 12.7
1955–56 44.1 15.1
1956–57 42.3 17.9
1961–62 38.3 29.2
The 1961–62 figures are provisional.

Forward to