§ 21. Mr. MacArthur
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the purpose of the official Press interview given by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland in Perth on 28th January, 1965.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
This was not a Press conference called by me. At the end of my housing visit to Perth, two reporters asked for my impressions, which I gave them.
§ Mr. MacArthur
Is the hon. Gentleman aware, that, according to these Press reports, he appeared to criticise Perth's housing achievement and to praise that of Dundee? Is he aware that since the war, Perth Council has built about one new house for every 11 or 12 of the population and now owns 41 per cent. of the houses in the City, a very high proportion; that the Council's financial management is above reproach, and that over the next four years the Council has a preliminary programme for building 1,550 new houses?
§ Dr. Mabon
I accept that the record of house building in Perth until 1963 was good, but in 1964—it was that question which I answered—the results were disappointing, considering that only 64 houses were built and that there was a waiting list of 1,200. As a Minister, what concerned me more was the fact that no submissions were put before me with regard to further approvals. Indeed, since I assumed my present responsibilities, I have only been asked to agree to approve 10 houses, and there are only 125 houses under construction in Perth at the moment. I am most anxious to hear from the Town Council what it intends to do. I am very glad to have the information from the hon. Gentleman about the Council's intentions. I only hope that he and I together can encourage Perth to come forward with specific proposals in order to improve its housing programme in 1965 and 1966 so that it will measure up to what was the case before 1964.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's anxiety about this subject. Is he aware that 1964 was a year of great difficulty in Perth? Is he further aware that there has been consultation between the Council and the Scottish Office about land acquisition and that the housing proposals for the next four years exceed the waiting list in Perth at the moment? Would it not be better if he did not give Press interviews of this kind, which lead to great misunderstanding?