HC Deb 02 December 1970 vol 807 cc1268-70
16. Mr. Eadie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will announce the Government's future yearly targets for private and public house building; what representations he has received from local authorities on future house building; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The answer to the first part of the Question is "No", and to the second part "None".

Mr. Eadie

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that thousands of families in Scotland are in need of housing and want to know what their housing opportunities will be in two to three years time? Not to give any indication of targets is a form of cruelty. It is not a question of government by smoke signals; it is not government at all.

Mr. Campbell

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman knew that a situation had been reached in Scotland where there is a great need for houses in certain areas but in others the demand is already being met. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should again be calling upon us to proclaim targets when his party completely failed in this respect. The local authorities in Scotland are assessing their problem of sub-tolerable houses and when I get the results I expect to have a much better picture than was available to me when I took office of where the real housing needs are.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that his answers show appalling complacency in view of the urgency of the problem, and that the submissions for approval coming into the Department are reaching an all-time low, even lower than when he was Under-Secretary of State responsible for the two disastrous quarters of 1964?

Mr. Campbell

Surely the hon. Gentleman realises that the decline in approvals started last year? There has been a continuous reduction in 1969 and the first six months of 1970 compared with 1968.

Earl of Dalkeith

With reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) about cruelty, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is infinitely more cruel to promise people houses and then not provide them?

Mr. Campbell

I entirely agree with my noble Friend.