HC Deb 17 May 1978 vol 950 cc455-7
11. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on what criteria the recent application by the Kirkcaldy District Council for an increase in the capital allocation for house building and improvements was refused.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

The allocation to Kirkcaldy provides for the district council's current commitments, with a margin for some new work. It was told, however, as were other authorities, that my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider adjusting allocations in the course of the year to deal with any special difficulties.

Mr. Gourlay

Is my hon. Friend aware of the urgency of supplementary applications being dealt with expeditiously, in view of the critical tender acceptance dates which are often involved? Will he do everything possible to dispel the impression being created by some local authorities in Scotland that the Government are somehow holding up housing improvements? Will he confirm that these capital allowances cover the cost of dealing with dampness in local authority houses which causes so much friction between tenant and local authority?

Mr. Brown

As to dampness, any remedial work can attract a subsidy. That is part of the new system. I shall be drawing the attention of all local authorities to this in the near future. On the transfer of capital allocation to Kirkcaldy, as far as I am aware, we have not held up the approval of anything beyond the tender contract date. The only one outstanding is for Cardenden for £500,000 which we received only last week, and which I shall be clearing within the next few days.

Sir John Gilmour

Does the Minister agree that as the allocation to Kirkcaldy appears to be about £2 million less than it asked for, if this is repeated throughout other district councils in Scotland it must show that the housing situation is much worse than the Government understand it to be?

Mr. Brown

I have great respect for the hon. Member's knowledge of agriculture, but it is obvious that he does not know much about housing. The facts are contrary to what he said. The allocations throughout Scotland have been increased in real terms this year. The individual allocation for Kirkcaldy is now almost up to what it spent last year. If further schemes are submitted for approval, I see no difficulty in giving such approval.

Mr. Lambie

Is my hon. Friend aware that there has been some local criticism of the capital allocation for house building and improvement in the Cunninghame and the Kyle and Carrick districts? Will he give an assurance that he will look sympathetically at future applications from those councils?

Mr. Brown

Some local authorities are not anxious to spend money and they are blaming it on the Government. If any local authority comes forward with a reasonable proposal in addition to what has already been given to it by allocation, we shall consider it sympathetically.