HC Deb 19 December 1990 vol 183 cc287-8
19. Mr. Graham

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assistance he will give to councils in Scotland that wish to build more houses for rent.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Provisional capital allocations of £415 million for local authority investment in council housing in 1991–92 were announced earlier this month. Authorities wishing to use those resources to build council houses are free to do so.

Mr. Graham

When right hon. and hon. Members leave the House today, we shall return to nice, comfortable homes, plenty of money and probably a good Christmas turkey, but will the Minister acknowledge that many thousands of homeless people are suffering the consequences of the Government's disastrous housing policy in respect of rented accommodation? When will the Minister stand up and be counted and ensure that the homeless can get a place to stay or a decent home at an affordable rent? It is up to you, Minister, to give them some hope.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

First, some confirmation of the problem was given by the director of housing of Glasgow district council, who is quoted in today's Glasgow Herald as saying that some 9,000 council homes are empty in Glasgow district". He suggested that the figure could increase to 20,000. I suggest to the House that those houses should be brought back into use. If the council feels that it does not have sufficient resources, it should consider making arrangements with housing associations, or with the private sector, to bring them back into use. I strongly endorse what the director of housing of Glasgow district council has said in that regard.

No one should be under any obligation to sleep rough. The Salvation Army has confirmed that places are available in hostels in Edinburgh and Glasgow if those concerned wish to take up the offer.