HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc378-9
24. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is at the latest convenient date the number of new houses completed in Scotland since October 1964; and what was the number completed in the same period prior to that date.

Mr. Ross

From the beginning of October, 1964, to the end of January. 1970, 210,694 houses were completed in Scotland, as against 152,231 in the same length of time before October, 1964.

Mr. Hunter

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this increase in house building will be seen as a positive step towards increasing the number of new dwellings in Scotland? Has he noticed that, despite the efforts of the Opposition to make party political propaganda out of house building, they have not yet announced their target in the event of their being returned to office? Would he say whether that was caution or deceit?

Mr. Ross

There may be a little of both. I am more interested in the Opposition's attitude to their own performance in the past when in 1953 they reached 39,000 houses, a figure which by 1962 had gone down to 26,000. That was a scandalous performance.

Mr. Younger

Does the Secretary of State recall the promise—which he made in order to get votes in 1964—to build 50,000 houses by 1970? Can he tell us why the Prime Minister said that no circumstances, however adverse, would deter him from achieving that target?

Mr. Ross

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I remember my words very well. I told the electorate exactly how badly the Opposition had done. We set ourselves the target of trying to reach—it was a target, not a promise—50,000 houses. Last year, we reached 43,000. We had 2,100 houses completed but held up because of the Ronan Point Inquiry. When hon. Members opposite compare that with their efforts, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Did I hear the Secretary of State aright? Did he indicate that that was not part of either a lightly-given promise or a pledge?

Mr. Ross

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we said that we should do our best to reach that target, and we have done pretty well.