HC Deb 15 March 1972 vol 833 cc530-2
26. Mr. Buchanan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many dwelling houses in the City of Glasgow are scheduled for demolition; what is the annual rate of demolition; and what proportion of the cost is being met by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Younger

As houses are scheduled for demolition for a variety of reasons, and demolition costs may attract Government assistance in various ways, I do not have comprehensive information about numbers or grants. About 8,400 houses were closed or demolished in Glasgow during 1970 and about 7,400 in the first nine months of 1971.

Mr. Buchanan

The Minister will be aware that Glasgow, having been the industrial heart of Scotland, has a need to attract industry but that the sight of derelict tenements all over the city gives it a dilapidated and rundown appearance. Will he use his influence to speed up the demolition of such derelict tenements and take whatever financial measures are necessary to relieve Glasgow Corporation of the undoubtedly high costs of such demolition?

Mr. Younger

I am very much in sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman has said about the effect of derelict tenements on people who may be coming to look at Glasgow as a location for industry. There are various ways in which the Government help with demolition costs—through the planning redevelopment grant, housing subsidies and the rate support grant. The hon. Gentleman may be aware that we are introducing in the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, currently in Committee, an entirely new slum clearance subsidy which will give a special new grant to local authorities for the costs of demolition.

Mr. Tom McMillan

Is the Minister aware that in his last figure he gave the number of closures and demolitions together? The reason for that answer being given is that the crazy procedure leading to demolition in Glasgow is costing Glasgow a fortune. First, the medical officer of health has a closing order—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Is the hon. Member giving information or seeking it?

Mr. McMillan

I am trying to point out the procedure which is holding back demolition, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister aware that the procedures holding back the demolition are that the closing order by the medical officer of health and the demolition order do not go together? Is he further aware that in one area we find workmen coming in and demolish- ing one close of a huge tenement building and leaving the rest? Is he still further aware that the city engineer has an immediate danger list and a long-term danger list and that, there again, workmen come in and take down one close but leave the other dangerous building?

Mr. Younger

I am aware that there are complications about demolition, particularly in a large city. But there are now strong incentives for local authorities to get on with demolition. As the rules are well known to the local authority officials involved, I am confident that they will get a lot of work done in this sphere in the coming year.

Mr. Brewis

Will my hon. Friend take careful note of what was said by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Tom McMillan)? Is it not the case that demolitions are taking place and that not nearly enough rebuilding is going on? Should we not use the house improvement scheme much more for buildings which have a life of 10 to 20 years and not simply pull them down?

Mr. Younger

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making the point that demolition is by no means the only answer. The increased rate of improvement grant will undoubtedly encourage local authorities to improve those houses which can be improved and provide good houses for people at less cost than new houses, in areas where they have lived and want to live for many years.