HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc366-8
6. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the present level of municipal house rents in Glasgow; and what action he proposes to take in this matter.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

My right hon. Friend explained in answer to a Question on 16th December that responsibility for fixing rents is laid on the local authority. My right hon. Friend expects local authorities to adopt a reasonable attitude over rents. I am sure that Glasgow Corporation will act in a reasonable manner in accordance with changing circumstances.

Mr. Taylor

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that that is an outrageous reply? Is it not time that we saw some Wilsonian dynamism directed to removing one of the most flagrant and obvious injustices in local government in Scotland? The people of Glasgow are having to pay a massive subsidy equivalent to 3s. 6d. in rates, towards subsidising 120,000 families irrespective of need. If the Glasgow Corporation will not operate its statutory powers to review rents from time to time, will the hon. Gentleman consider sending commissioners to take over the running of the city?

Dr. Mabon

It is not an outrageous Answer. It is remarkably mild. Glasgow is still actively considering a review of rents. I understand that a senior member of the Corporation announced publicly that it intended to approach the Secretary of State to discuss this problem and the related problems of housing finance. In addition, the Government are actively concerned with reviewing housing finance with the intention of taking action as soon as possible.

Mr. Galbraith

How can the hon. Gentleman regard himself as a responsible Minister if he allows this state of affairs to continue? It amounts to the fact that, in Glasgow, a great many citizens are supporting out of charity others who are well able to support themselves. If the hon. Gentleman is so keen on reviews, can we not have a Government review instead of allowing Glasgow Corporation to continue its review, which has been going on for two years already?

Dr. Mabon

The review I referred to in the final part of my last answer was, of course, a Government review. The review I referred to in the earlier part was the Glasgow Corporation review. We would hope soon to be able to resolve the national position regarding housing finance and no doubt the House will be told of this in due course. But, for the present, it would be wrong of Ministers precipitately to insist on action when the whole matter is being considered properly and reasonably.

Dr. Miller

Will my hon. Friend say how many times Glasgow Corporation has raised its rents during the last five years?

Dr. Mabon

Without notice, I regret that I cannot give that information. I can assure my hon. Friend that Glasgow has not been slow in increasing its rents.

Mr. Noble

Is not this a perfect example of the way in which a Socialist-controlled city council has been taking no action but has been reviewing and reviewing and reviewing?

Dr. Mabon

It is neither perfect nor is it an example.

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