HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc203-4
30. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what number of houses was completed in Scotland in the first eight months of this year; and what were the comparable figures for the first eight months of 1965 and 1964, respectively.

Mr. Ross

Twenty-thousand, eight hundred and six compared with 22,275 in 1965 and 22,227 in 1964.

Mr. Taylor

Are not those figures quite deplorable, showing as they do a steady deterioration year after year, and does not the right hon. Gentleman feel at all guilty knowing that he and his colleagues were elected with the help of homeless people who were promised an acceleration in house building and not a fall each year?

Mr. Ross

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the figures which I have given, he will notice that last year there was an increase and not a fall, and if he bears in mind what the position is and what we inherited, he will realise that houses cannot be started until they have been aporoved by the Department, and that from March to October, 1964, there was a very considerable drop of over 6,000, which is being reflected in recent months. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not be disappointed to learn that the figure for September shows that this gap is narrowing and is within 64 of last year's figure in the public sector.

Mr. William Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend give us the comparable average figures for eight months in each of the years 1959 to 1963, nine years after we had a Tory Government?

Mr. Ross

The figure was just over 17,000–17,200 to be exact.

Mr. David Steel

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has had information from local authorities that they have postponed some of their projects because of the economic squeeze, and can he say what advice and assistance he is able to give them to persuade them to carry on with their housing programmes?

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend is for the second time going to visit local authorities. We are concerned about this from the point of view of the house building programme one or two years ahead. There had not been much change in the position since about 1961, but it has now considerably improved, and local authorities are responding freely to our appeals to get on with decent responsible five-year programmes.