HC Deb 22 July 1964 vol 699 cc468-9
24. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many families are due to be rehoused because of overcrowding in the houses presently occupied by them.

Mr. G. Campbell

I regret that I cannot provide this information because it is not available.

Mr. Manuel

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that he is sadly lacking in keeping abreast of his work by not having this information? Is not he aware that one of the reasons for rehousing people is gross overcrowding? Cannot he even give the figures for houses on which subsidies have been paid? How many thousands of local authority houses are overcrowded, and how many families are there for whom new houses should be provided so that they could move out and allow others to move into smaller homes?

Mr. Campbell

The local authorities have a duty to consider housing conditions in their districts and to provide houses to meet the need there, but they are under no obligation to report to my right hon. Friend the number of houses in their districts which may be regarded as overcrowded. The local authorities themselves will know what the degree of overcrowding is, but I regret that the information is not available centrally.

Sir J. Gilmour

Has not there been a considerable reduction in the amount of overcrowding in Scotland?

Mr. Campbell

Although we are not able to provide the detailed information for which the Question asks, we have an indication of the position from the censuses of 1951 and 1961. The 1961 census shows that the proportion of people in Scotland living at a density of more than 1½ persons per room fell from 35 per cent. in 1951 to 22 per cent. in 1961.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

But would not the hon. Gentleman agree that a very large proportion of the council houses which the Government boast have been built while they have been in office are grossly overcrowded and that in any table of the number of houses built there should be a footnote explaining that a large number of them are already overcrowded?

Mr. Campbell

No, I would not accept that. The overcrowding is worst in the big city of Glasgow, not in the council house areas, but in areas where we want to reduce the density of population and to redevelop.