HC Deb 03 February 1971 vol 810 cc1658-9
19 and 20. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what discussions he has had with building societies to encourage personal saving and house-ownership;

(2) what action he is taking to encourage loans for house ownership.

Mr. Younger

I have had useful discussions with representatives of the building societies on possible ways of encouraging home ownership.

Mr. Brewis

Did my hon. Friend get any assurance from the building societies that sufficient funds would be available to meet any expected demand?

Mr. Younger

Yes, Sir. The societies were able to tell me that they are reasonably happy at the moment with the funds they are getting and assured me that from the Scottish point of view they were of the opinion that they would be able to meet any demands made on them.

Mr. Sillars

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Conservative Party's housing policy will increase or decrease the number of houses expected to be built in Scotland over the next five years?

Mr. Younger

As I have said before, the last thing I wish to forward is a statement on targets. This has proved to be a most disastrous way of running a housing programme, as shown by the record of the last five years. What I want to do is to identify the areas of greatest need and build the maximum number of houses in those areas.

Mr. David Steel

Does the hon. Gentleman plan to encourage financially the setting-up of housing aid and advice centres in the major populous parts of Scotland so that people can get much more ready information about the facilities for home purchase?

Mr. Younger

I have had a number of very useful discussions on possibilities and I hope that we shall be able to make a considerable improvement in the advice available to people on housing generally.

Mr. John Robertson

In his discussions with the building societies, was the hon. Member able to obtain any information about the cost of building owner-occupied houses in Scotland, the relationship of that cost to income, and the possible scope for an expansion of home ownership on that basis?

Mr. Younger

I discussed with the building societies the conclusions which were published in the Sidwell Report, which suggested some of the reasons for the increased cost of house building in Scotland. However, the building societies informed me that although this was something about which they were disturbed, in their opinion it would not make their task of lending money to house buyers more difficult.