HC Deb 21 January 1970 vol 794 cc488-9
7. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to assist the operations of housing associations and housing societies in Scotland.

Mr. Ross

The Government offer the same grants and subsidies to the housing associations as to local authorities. Housing societies receive loans from the Housing Corporation, and co-ownership societies are eligible for the option mortgage subsidy. I also give an annual grant to the National Federation of Housing Societies towards its administrative expenses in Scotland.

Mr. Campbell

If the Government are giving full encouragement to housing societies, why is not much more being done by them in Scotland? This would add to this very useful element of our housing potential and, at the same time, produce mobility for key industrial workers.

Mr. Ross

I agree with the hon. Member in the last part of his supplementary question. Of course, it would be a very useful element. The hon. Member will appreciate that in the past five years these societies provided five times as many new houses as in the preceding five years. They certainly may be handicapped by shortage of building society funds, but 28 schemes for 1,095 houses have now been approved in Scotland. Whilst I am pleased that progress is being made, I would like to see more.

Mr. Galbraith

Are housing associations doing as well in Scotland as they are in England? If not, could it possibly be that low council rents have anything to do with it?

Mr. Ross

I do not think it is low council rents. It may be part of a Scottish tradition and part of the fact that over a long period wages in Scotland have been less than those in England. From that point of view, people are less willing to embark upon this method. As the hon. Member knows, however, the associations and societies got well ahead in England long before they started in Scotland.