HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc385-6
30. Mr. McElhone

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the recent meeting between the Minister of State and Glasgow Corporation on the question of its house building programme.

Dr. Dickson Mahon

My noble Friend discussed with the Corporation means of providing for Glasgow's housing needs. A joint working party of officials of the Corporation and of my Department is now following up this discussion in detail. When the Working Party has made progress, which I hope will be soon, my noble Friend will have further discussions with the Corporation.

Mr. McElhone

Does not my hon. Friend agree that it is criminal to cut back the housing programme in Glasgow, which has the worst housing situation in Western Europe? Does not he also agree that to start only 1,311 houses last year, instead of 4,500, indicates that the Tories in Glasgow are following the policy of the Tories in Westminster, which is against council house building?

Dr. Dickson Mabon

My answer to both parts of the supplementary question is "Yes, Sir". Two excuses for this were offered by the Conservatives in Glasgow. One was that our indicative cost procedure had slowed down the programme. In 1968, 1,428 houses were approved before the indicative cost procedure began. In 1969, when that procedure began, the number approved was 4,199. A threefold increase can hardly be called an administrative blocking. The other excuse is housing finance. In 1971–72 twice as much money will be spent on housing in Scotland as was spent in 1963–64.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that, on 19th November, in answer to a Question by me, he admitted that the cost procedure was causing delays and that there was need for readjustment of housing programmes? Will he and his hon. Friends stop seeking scapegoats for the deficiencies and inaccuracies of their own housing targets?

Dr. Dickson Mabon

The hon. Gentleman did not listen to the answer I gave. The delays have been very temporary and over one year they made no difference. I will repeat what I said in relation to Glasgow, where there is said to be greatest excuse. In the year before the indicative cost procedures began, 1,428 houses were approved by the Scottish office. In the year after these procedures were begun, 4,199 houses were approved. The hon. Gentleman cannot get out of that.

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