HC Deb 14 March 1973 vol 852 cc1285-6
22. Mr. Alexander Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of houses in Scotland is classified as being in urgent need of demolition or improvement in each local authority area.

Mr. Younger

About 10 per cent. in Scotland as a whole. Information for each local authority area is not available centrally.

Mr. Wilson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that among local authorities in Scotland there is a growing loss of confidence in any measures which the Government attempt to take to increase the number of local authority houses or homes? Is he further aware of the Government's deplorable record in house building in Scotland? Does not the Minister agree that the ceiling for money spent on overall house renovations in Scotland is far too low? Will he consider increasing the grant in that respect?

Mr. Younger

I do not accept the first two points. Local authorities are finding increasingly that the new subsidy arrangements under the Housing Finance Act are very good for confidence in house building and house improvement. As they are discovering also, they are getting more subsidy under this system than they did under the older one.

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was referring to improvement grants in the last part of his question but, as he knows, they are now at a higher rate and it is intended that this higher rate should continue for a further year until June 1974. All the evidence available to us shows that these rates of grant are very attractive and that house improvement in Scotland is booming.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

As the availability and cost of land is often a factor in local authorities speeding up demolition, what steps have the Government taken, in the light of the Budget speech, to find out the private landowners who are delaying the building of houses even though they have planning permission? Will the hon. Gentleman publish this information?

Mr. Younger

We still have to process the information which will arise under that provision in the Budget, but it is not thought that there is a serious problem in Scotland through the development of land with planning permission being unreasonably delayed. If I can obtain any evidence of delay, I shall be prepared to follow it up.