HC Deb 22 July 1964 vol 699 cc466-7
22. Mr. Millan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many slum houses have been closed or demolished in Scotland since 1959; and what is the number of houses built before 1880 still remaining.

Mr. G. Campbell

From the beginning of 1959 to the end of March this year about 58,000 unfit houses, together with about 7,000 other houses, were closed or demolished in slum clearance and redevelopment work. The best estimate of the number of pre-1880 houses is no more than 500,000.

Mr. Millan

Why does the hon. Gentleman say "no more than 500,000"? Is not he aware that most of the pre-1880 houses are either slums or near-slums or are at least lacking in modern amenities and they should be cleared away? Is it not clear from the figures that the programme is quite inadequate to meet the real need in Scotland? Will the hon. Gentleman explain why, according to the last quarterly housing return, the number of slum houses dealt with in Scotland went down from 10,700 in 1959 to only 8,600 in 1963? What has happened to the Government's wonderful slum clearance programme?

Mr. Campbell

I said "no more than 500,000" because, as the hon. Gentleman will understand, it is difficult to get an exact figure. This is an outside figure. We can be quite sure that there are no more than that. The hon. Gentleman would be quite wrong to condemn out of hand every house built before 1880 because to do so would remove from the housing stock in Scotland a number of houses which are sturdily built and still able to give good service, no doubt, with improvement under the arrangements which the Government have introduced. On the third point, the figures I have given include unfit houses dealt with otherwise than by statutory action. The figures which the hon. Gentleman gave covered only those dealt with by statutory action, and mine also included houses dealt with under the planning Acts.