HC Deb 27 November 1959 vol 614 cc79-81W
Mr. Oswald

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he is in receipt of the emergency resolution sent to him by the Edinburgh Central Constituency Labour Party regarding the collapse of a tenement building at 6 Beaumont Place, Edinburgh, in the early hours of Saturday, 21st November, 1959; and what action he intends to take to safeguard families residing in such dilapidated properties in the slum areas of Central Edinburgh;

(2) if he is aware of the collapse of a tenement building at 6 Beaumont Place, Edinburgh, which was condemned as unfit for human habitation 20 years ago; whether he is further aware that the said tenement building is part of the area, referred to in his correspondence to the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh, on Tuesday, 17th November, now being compulsorily purchased by the Corporation of Edinburgh; to what extent he contemplates legislation to speed up the demolition of properties so scheduled for slum clearance; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will institute an inquiry into the condition of the slum properties in the Beaumont Place, Carnegie Street, and Dalrymple Place areas, following the collapse of a tenement on Saturday, 21st November, in the city of Edinburgh, with a view to giving a directive to the Corporation for the speedy demolition of dangerous buildings.

Mr. Maclay

I am aware of the partial collapse of this tenement, and I sympathise very much with the occupants in their most unpleasant experience. I have also received the resolution referred to.

I understand that the property in the St. Leonard's area was inspected by Edinburgh Corporation some years before the last war and noted as calling for action in due course. While the first two parts of the redevelopment were actually carried out before the war, other housing needs in the post-war period were, until recently, given precedence over the redevelopment of the third part, which includes Beaumont Place, Carnegie Street and Dalrymple Place. As the hon. Member says, compulsory purchase for demolition was authorised earlier this month. Since the collapse on 21st November, the corporation has taken steps to secure that adjacent property is vacated, and is arranging to rehouse the occupants immediately.

I do not think that new legislation is needed or would serve to speed up slum clearance operations. I have no doubt that this collapse will bring home to all local authorities, the need for speedy action to deal with properties such as this, and the vital importance of keeping a very close watch on such properties until they can be dealt with. The authorities have adequate powers to safeguard occupants where danger is apprehended, and I see no occasion for seeking to intervene.

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