HC Deb 18 February 1970 vol 796 cc411-2
30. Earl of Dalkeith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many old houses in Scotland have been brought up to date by means of improvement grants in each of the last three years; and what is his estimate for 1970.

Dr. Dickson Mahon

Approved applications for grant covered 7,307 houses in 1967, 13,679 in 1968 and 14,951 in 1969. I cannot forecast a figure for 1970, but I look for a further increase following the provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1969.

Earl of Dalkeith

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the rather slow progress made is partly due to ignorance about the improved improvement grants? Will he launch a crash programme of advertising to let people know and make better use of the 21,000 in the building industry who are at present out of work?

Dr. Mabon

Despite the fact that the noble Lord is committed to a programme of reducing public expenditure still further, I inform him that we are engaged in trying to promote the spending of more money in improvement of houses. If he looks at the Written Answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie) on 4th February he will see the compari- son of previous years with this present year, which is remarkable.

Mr. Manuel

Can my hon. Friend inform the House of the number of these old houses which have received improvement grants which are estate houses belonging to noble families and other landed gentry? Does he not consider that there should be an incomes test such as that applied to local authority tenants before they can get houses?

Dr. Mahon

One must always remember the poor souls who must live in these houses.