HL Deb 08 April 1965 vol 265 cc173-5

3.6 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can state how many cities or large boroughs in Great Britain have, in relation to population, a higher ratio of unfit dwellings urgently requiring demolition and of dwellings which, though not technically unfit, are obsolescent and unsuitable for improvement, than that shown in the Milner Holland Report as obtaining in the Greater London Council area.]


My Lords, though accurate information covering the whole country is not at present available, I believe the noble Lord is particularly interested in Glasgow, and on the knowledge which already exists it can he said that conditions there as regards unfitness and obsolescence are in some ways worse than in London. The Milner Holland Report estimated that the number of houses in Greater London urgently requiring demolition was probably more than 45,000. The review of the Glasgow Development Plan in 1960 said that 15,000 houses in the city were unfit, which is a higher proportion in relation to population. In 1961, 18 per cent. of all households in Greater London, including those in multi-occupied dwellings, shared a water-closet. In Glasgow, although there is much less multi-occupation, the figure was 23 per cent.

What is required, however, is an up-to-date picture of housing conditions, especially in the main centres of population. Local authorities are now providing fresh estimates of the number of unfit houses and my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has asked a sub-committee of the Central Housing Advisory Committee to review the whole question of the standards which houses should satisfy if they are to meet modern requirements. This will provide a much more satisfactory basis for assessing the condition of dwellings.


My Lords, while I thank my noble friend for his Answer, he will understand, I am sure, that I am disappointed that he could give figures with regard to Glasgow only, because although I am naturally interested in those figures, my Question was a much wider one. May I ask him just two further points? Can he tell me whether the standards which are applied in judging unfitness are the same in Scotland as in England? I ask that because, in the past, standards for such things as overcrowding were different, and if was impossible, therefore, to compare the statistics. May I ask also whether he does not think that there is a case for something comparable to the Milner Holland Report being produced in respect of cities such as Glasgow, where it is said that unfitness in relation to the population is ten times as bad as in London?


My Lords, as regards the country on the whole—that is, both England and Scotland—the local authorities in England have been asked to provide up-to-date information about unfit houses. So far as obsolescent housing is concerned, the first thing is to establish agreed definitions. That, I think, is one of the points that my noble friend had in mind. This we hope the Committee on Standards of Housing Fitness will be able to do. I do not think there is a case at present for any further inquiries.