HC Deb 11 June 1969 vol 784 cc1447-8
28. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now make a statement on the results of his Department's discussions with local authorities in Scotland on the responsibility for payments to cover expenses made necessary by the strengthening of certain multi-storey buildings.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

The Government have offered to meet 40 per cent. of the cost of strengthening work and of incidental expenses.

Mr. Campbell

Is not 40 per cent. much less than was expected? How can the Government justify an offer of so small a percentage when neither the Scottish local authorities nor the ratepayers can be held responsible for these costs?

Dr. Mabon

I cannot accept that last comment. These houses are the property of the local authorities and the ratepayers concerned. As for the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, it may be true that people expected more. However, the 40 per cent. is broadly in line with the Government's share of new building, as represented by the current subsidy, which was revised recently.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

What proportion of the total estimated cost is to be borne by Glasgow?

Dr. Mabon

Without notice, I cannot say. There are about 170 blocks, or 12,000 houses, in large panel construction in Scotland, but they do not all need strengthening, so it is difficult to make the calculation.

Mr. Galbraith

Why should the local authorities be burdened with the major share of the cost of putting matters right? After all, the Government encouraged local authorities to build houses of this kind.

Dr. Mabon

The hon. Gentleman has it wrong. The Government compelled no local authoritiy to build any single multistorey block. In my experience, we have had to discourage local authorities from overdoing multi-storey building, and Glasgow is one example.