HC Deb 24 February 1971 vol 812 cc552-4
12. Mr. Mackintosh

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been the number of housing starts in Scotland in the past six months; how these compare with the equivalent six months of the previous year; and what are his explanations for the changes that are revealed by these figures.

69. Earl of Dalkeith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how the number of houses started in the last six months compares with the number for the similar period a year ago; and what are the reasons for the difference.

Mr. Cordon Campbell

18,470 houses were started in the last six months of 1970, and 19,649 in the last six months of 1969. The change reflects the response of local authorities to their housing needs.

Mr. Mackintosh

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that this decline in housing starts is a very serious matter—very serious indeed in view of the sick housing situation in Scotland? Does he accept that this decline is to go further in the next year? What proposals has he to increase the number of housing starts now?

Mr. Campbell

The decline is not as regular as the hon. Gentleman suggests. For example, there were more starts in the second half of 1970 than there were in the first half. The general decline started in 1968, because between 1968 and 1969 there were nearly 5,000 fewer starts, and there were 3,000 fewer between 1969 and 1970.

Earl of Dalkeith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the scrapping of S.E.T. on the building industry, a tax imposed by the previous Government, will give the building industry in Scotland a much-needed boost of £19 million and enable the industry to take up much of the slack of the present unemployment in the industry, which totals 26,000 at present, to whom we are paying unemployment benefit to the tune of the equivalent of 50 new houses per week?

Mr. Campbell

I am aware that S.E.T. has been a burden upon the building industry. My aim is to encourage public authorities and the private builders to meet the outstanding need wherever it exists and as quickly as possible and by all the means available, including improvement and slum clearance.

Mr. Ross

Does the reduction in the number of houses started, completed and authorised by Glasgow in the last two years reflect an improvement in its need?

Mr. Campbell

That is a question about Glasgow, and there are other Questions down about that.

26. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the number of houses completed and the number of houses approved in Burntisland for the year ended 31st December, 1970.

Mr. Younger

Twenty-one local authority houses and three private houses were completed. No proposals for council house building were approved.

Mr. Gourlay

Is the Minister aware that at present there are 195 people on the waiting lists of Burntisland and that there are only 16 houses under construction? Is he prepared to condemn nearly 180 families in Burntisland to a homeless future? What steps does he propose to take to prevent that?

Mr. Younger

In the first place this is primarily a matter for the town council of Burntisland to decide. That council has not submitted to me during the past year any proposals for housebuilding but is in no way being held up by the Government, and I very much hope that it will be looking at its future needs. I have been doing need surveys in respect of all local authorities. I am still awaiting detailed estimates from Burntisland of the number of houses which fall below the tolerable standard.