HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc369-70
9. Dr. Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the housing shortage and the need to make full use of existing houses, he will take steps to facilitate the acquisition by local authorities of houses which are empty or not otherwise fulfilling their proper function.

53. Mr. Garrow

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to ensure that houses are not allowed to stand unoccupied for long periods whilst many people remain unhoused.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Local authorities already have wide powers to acquire empty houses or other property, either by agreement or compulsorily, in order to meet the housing needs of their areas.

Dr. Miller

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him if he is aware that, although they have wide powers, many difficulties are put in their way in attempting to acquire houses without going into very long procedures, and that if it were made much easier for local authorities to acquire houses which are not fulfilling their proper function this would be a very valuable contribution to the difficult housing shortage in Glasgow and in other cities?

Dr. Mabon

I agree that there are difficulties which my hon. Friend has mentioned. I have looked into the actual procedures. While I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that compulsory purchase orders will be dealt with by my Department as quickly as possible, I think it is quite clear that interested parties must have a fair opportunity to put their views. If there are any particular individual cases which my hon. Friend has in mind, I shall be very happy to look into them.

Mr. Brewis

Is it not a fact that very low, subsidised rents encourage under-utilisation of existing housing?

Hon. Members


Dr. Mabon

There is no such evidence.

Mr. Garrow

Will my hon. Friend agree that many young couples in Glasgow today feel a tremendous degree of dissatisfaction and frustration because, while they are homeless, they see many hundreds of houses lying vacant because of their owners' determination not to allow the houses to be rented at reasonable rents by these young couples?

Dr. Mabon

I agree that there is some concern—some deep concern—about this matter. Perhaps the legislation which the Government are contemplating may help to alter this position, but certainly these powers exist, and if Glasgow Corporation wishes to exercise them in relation to any of these houses the Secretary of State will certainly be glad to look at propositions put before him.

Mr. Noble

If, as the hon. Gentleman said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis), he has no evidence, will he please ask the Scottish Department what evidence it has?

Dr. Mabon

That is anticipating a later Question.

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