HC Deb 06 December 1967 vol 755 c1423
14. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will indicate the progress made in the clearance of derelict sites in the last three years as compared with progress in the years 1961–62 to 1963–64.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

During the last three years 47 schemes have been completed, at a cost of £1.3 million. From 1961–62 to 1963–64 only 16 schemes were completed, at a cost of £166,000.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that those figures reveal an important improvement in the situation, but can he tell the House the total size of the problem and what the Government are doing to spur on the laggard authorities in this matter?

Dr. Mabon

It is difficult to know precisely the size of problem that we are facing. My right hon. Friend decided early on that it was far better to try to get a list of such schemes by different authorities and urge them to get ahead faster. We can reasonably say that since we have done ten times better than the previous Administration over a comparable period, we are entitled to consider that we have done reasonably well, although we know that we have a lot more to do and we are urging local authorities to go faster than they have done so far.

Mr. Noble

Will the hon. Gentleman accept from me that I am delighted that the local authorities have done so much better? Is it not the local authorities rather than the Government?

Dr. Mabon

The fact is that we have changed the Statute in several ways, in which I will not go into now. Local authorities get 85 per cent. grants on many of these schemes, which is a tremendous incentive. Fife has done exceptionally well and I would wish other counties to emulate Fife in its efforts so far.