HC Deb 08 July 1970 vol 803 cc646-9
9. Dr. Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to assist Glasgow Corporation to reach a level of house building commensurate with the needs of the city.

16. Mr. James Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from Glasgow Corporation about additional financial help to the city to deal with its housing problems; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Younger

My right hon. Friend has told the corporation that we would like to have discussions with it very soon about the city's housing needs.

Dr. Miller

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Glasgow Corporation's recent house building record is deplorable and a disgrace to any civilised community? Will he undertake to stress to the corporation that its obsessive preoccupation with the rate problem is not allowing it to get on with the job of building houses for the citizens of Glasgow?

Mr. Younger

I do not accept the implications of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. He will be as aware as anyone of the great difficulties experienced by Glasgow Corporation over past years in keeping rates at a reasonable level. As for the future, I do not want to prejudice the discussions which I am to have with the corporation.

Mr. Bennett

In view of the assurance, repeated time and again, about the granting of financial aid to the City of Glasgow, is it the Government's declared intention to give that financial assistance?

Mr. Younger

We have made it clear that we recognise the special needs in Glasgow for special help with housing, but I do not wish to prejudice my discussions with the corporation any further at this stage.

Mr. Galbraith

In the discussions with Glasgow Corporation, will my hon. Friend encourage a fairer system of grants, so that subsidies go to the people who really need them and not to council tenants in general? Would not that help the financial burden on the rates more than anything, as well as leading to more houses?

Mr. Younger

No doubt that is something that may be discussed with the corporation.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I asked a Question of the Prime Minister, which was transferred to the Scottish Office, asking precisely, as the Convenor of Housing did in Glasgow on 19th June of the Prime Minister, what special financial assistance the Government are to give?

Mr. Younger

The last thing anyone, including Glasgow Corporation, would want is a decision on this matter without the corporation being consulted, and that is why I propose to consult it.

21. Mr. Buchanan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many dwelling houses were condemned as unfit for habitation and scheduled for demolition because of redevelopment, respectively, in the city of Glasgow between 1st January 1969, and 1st May, 1970; and how many new houses were started during the same period.

Mr. Younger

I regret that figures for closure or demolition are not available for this year. In 1969 about 8,100 houses in Glasgow were closed or demolished by all forms of action, and about 1,550 houses were started by all agencies.

Mr. Buchanan

That indicates the enormous problem facing the City of Glasgow. Will the hon. Gentleman try to stimulate his colleagues in the Glasgow Corporation into taking action and getting their priorities in the right order?

Mr. Younger

I do not think that anyone would underestimate the enormous problem faced by Glasgow for many years. I look forward to my discussions with the corporation on the future housing programme. It is not possible to make a direct comparison between the number of houses demolished and the number of houses built as many people are rehoused through reletting and other procedures.

Mr. Millan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the number of houses started in Glasgow in 1969 under the Tory administration, because of its deliberate policy of cutting back in housing, was the lowest since 1945? What will the Government do to ensure that the housing programme is speeded up in Glasgow so that the figures reach something like the excellent figures reached by the Tories' Labour predecessors on Glasgow Corporation?

Mr. Younger

I was looking with difficulty for signs of blushing on the hon. Gentleman's face in view of the fact that the present administration in Glasgow has had to cope with a backlog caused by about 30 years of Socialist incompetence. It is in the interests of all of us to have consultations with the corporation to see what can be done to help to solve its tremendous problem.

29. Mr. McElhone

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what assistance he intends giving to Glasgow Corporation to speed up the clearance of derelict and dangerous properties in Glasgow.

Mr. Younger

Glasgow Corporation already has adequate powers to deal with these properties, and the expenditure incurred qualifies for rate support grant. My right hon. Friend proposes to consult the corporation soon about redevelopment in the city.

Mr. McElhone

While accepting that statement, may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is aware that the Glasgow City Engineer has a record of hundreds of dangerous properties in that city, many still occupied? Is he also aware that the people of Glasgow are looking forward to early implementation of the Prime Minister's statement of special aid for Glasgow? May I add in that regard that Glasgow now has the highest average rental for council houses in Scotland?

Mr. Younger

The corporation's staff keep a very close watch on old buildings which are likely to become dangerous and do not hesitate to use their powers. It is, however, a matter of discretion, which must be exercised by them, as to whether a building is dangerous or needs to be demolished.

33. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the number of houses under construction in Glasgow at end of May, 1968, and those approved awaiting start; and if he will give corresponding figures for May, 1969, and May, 1970.

Mr. Younger

At 31st May, 1968, 1969 and 1970, about 10,500, 7,900 and 5,300 houses, respectively, were under construction, and about 1,500, 1,000 and 3,400 public sector houses were approved but not started.

Mr. Hannan

In view of those figures, how can the hon. Gentleman utter the reply which he gave to my hon. Friend on the Front Bench a few moments ago? In comparison with the record housing figures in Scotland during the same years, these figures must surely give the Government concern. What steps will the hon. Gentleman take to reinvigorate and do something with the Tory-controlled Glasgow Council to build more houses?

Mr. Younger

As the hon. Member knows, the future policy of housing in Glasgow is to be a matter which I will discuss with the corporation soon. He will also be interested to know that I have received the report of the joint working party on Glasgow housing set up some months ago. I am studying it, and shall be discussing it further with officials in due course.