HC Deb 02 July 1986 vol 100 cc989-90
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Allan Stewart)

Representations have been received from each of the new town development corporations and from the forum of Scottish local authorities with new towns.

Mr. Lambie

I thank the Minister for his reply and for recognising the need for consultation with the new town development corporations. Is he aware that for the first time in the history of the Scottish new towns we are experiencing a serious housing shortage as second generation families start to apply for new rented houses? Will the Minister consider giving special consideration to Irvine new town? It was the last of the new towns and has an ever-increasing housing list. Will he give the development corporation the permission and the resources to start building immediately new houses for these second generation families?

Mr. Stewart

I have asked the development corporations, including the one for Irvine, to provide detailed information which will enable me to make a thorough assessment of housing needs in the Scottish new towns. Irvine has £2.3 million gross to spend on housing in the current year. It is fair to say that home ownership in Irving, at 25 per cent., is low.

Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that 80 per cent. of the cases that come to my surgery in Glenrothes relate to housing problems? Flats for single persons have been empty for months in Glenrothes yet large numbers of single people are homeless and cannot occupy those flats because the Government insist that they must be sold, even though they were built to be rented. Is he prepared to have another look at the senseless housing policies inflicted on the people of Glenrothes and elsewhere by the Government?

Mr. Stewart

The Government's housing policies are based on a proper and balanced mix of housing. I reject the hon. Member's general allegation. I reassure him about Glenrothes, because I shall consider carefully the detailed case made recently by the development corporation on housing matters.

Mr. Norman Hogg

Does the Minister not understand that the current policy of sales linked to a lack of new building is producing an imbalance in the provision of housing which gives young married couples no hope? Will he agree to meet the development corporations and the district councils that have new towns to discuss this as a matter of urgency so that we can get the construction of houses under way as quickly as possible?

Mr. Stewart

The construction of special needs housing is going ahead in the new towns, which have been building at a rate of 130 specially adapted and amenity units per annum. Of course I shall consider the representations from Cumbernauld, and after I have had an opportunity to assess the evidence recently put to me I shall he able to undertake consultations and the meeting with the local authorities that has been requested.

Mr. Hugh Brown

May I widen this debate, because we are in danger of dealing with the matter as if it were a problem only of new town development corporations? The Minister has said that he will consult chairmen in assessing the need. Will he also take into account the need to have discussions with his colleague the Secretary of State, who does not have a housing policy for Scotland? Many constituents in local authority housing will never get to a new town, either because they are on benefit or because they have small incomes.

Mr. Stewart

My right hon. and learned Friend has an excellent housing policy for Scotland, and we have been discussing new towns because the question is about new towns. Obviously I have been in correspondence with the hon. Gentleman about dependent relatives, and the needs of that particular group will be taken into account in the current review.

  1. New Towns (Housing) 26 words