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Scotland

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1943

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Housing, Clydebank

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why, of the 1,000 new houses to be allocated on Clydeside, only 200 are allocated to Clydebank and in view of the fact that the destruction of houses by enemy action was greater in this burgh than elsewhere on the Clyde, that before the war Clydebank was overcrowded, and that since the war there has been an influx of workers into the area, whether he will reconsider this decision and authorise the provision of new houses in excess of 200?

Under the new Scottish housing programme of 1,000 houses 80 per cent. have been allocated to war-damaged areas on Clydeside. But there is unfortunately no known formula for giving universal satisfaction when only a limited number of houses is available to meet a large demand.

Is the Secretary of State aware that his reply will be heard with dismay in Clydebank? Is he aware that "the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests" but that the workers in Clydebank have nowhere of their own to lay their heads? What is the Secretary of State going to do to meet this tragic situation in Clydebank, where there are no homes for the people?

The Question on the Order Paper relates only to the allocation of the very limited token number of houses to be built. I can assure my hon. Friend that we have done our best to allocate these as fairly as possible.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the heaviest amount of damage has been done at Clydebank and will he not see that Clyde-bank gets a bigger part of the allocation?

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that there is substance in the pleas that have been made and that the dimensions of this token programme need to be reconsidered?

Hydro-Electric Development Bill

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will indicate the adaptations, modifications and exceptions which he proposes to make to the Electric (Supply) Acts, 1882 to 1936, referred to in Clauses 16 (1) and 21 of the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill, in time to allow of consideration before the Bill is examined in Committee?

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate promised during the Second Reading Debate it is the Government's intention to table timeously Amendments to the Bill setting out adaptations and modifications in the provisions of the Acts of 1926 and 1935 relating to the Central Electricity Board in their application to the North of Scotland District. No undertaking was given to schedule the adaptation of the Electricity (Supply) Acts as a whole, but I hope that it may be possible to deal with this also by way of Amendments to the Bill.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that these Amendments-will be put down timeously so that they may be considered before the Bill is examined in Committee?

Crofters (Instruction)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the desirability that crofters in the West Highlands and Islands should be enabled to make the most effective use of their crofts, he proposes to take any steps to instruct the crofters in up-to-date agricultural methods?

For many years the North and West of Scotland Colleges of Agriculture have had instructors and instructresses stationed in these districts for the purpose stated in the Question. I am glad, however, to say that the North of Scotland College has now secured, in addition, the services of Dr. Fraser Darling. Dr. Darling is the well-known scientist and naturalist, who has successfully cultivated a croft on the Island of Tanera off the Ross-shire coast and is thus able to speak from practical experience of crofting problems. Dr. Darling's services which will be on a part-time basis, will consist of giving practical instruction, advice and demonstrations to the crofters.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his encouraging statement, will he see that when the demonstrations take place, good notice is given, as most of the crofters are in remote areas, where they are very widely scattered and where there are great difficulties of transport, as it would be to the advantage of every single crofter to attend the demonstrations?

Rating System (Committee)

4 and 5.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) whether the question of rating of site values is included in the terms of reference to the Committee which he has appointed to inquire into rating problems in Scotland; and, if not, will he reconsider the terms so as to include such a reference;

(2) the terms of reference on which he proposes to ask a Committee to inquire into rating problems in Scotland; and whether he can give the names of that Committee?

I announced the terms of reference to this Committee in the House on 24th February during the Second Reading Debate on the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill. I am sending to my hon. Friend a copy of the statement I then made. The purpose of the inquiry is to examine only very limited aspects of the Scots rating system. The membership of the Committee is at present under consideration.

In view of my right hon. Friend's well-known support in the past for the rating of site values, does not he agree that there is now a favourable opportunity to include this in the terms of reference of the Committee, and why has he not done so?

It is very obvious that within the terms of a Hydro-Electric Bill it would be impossible to amend the whole of the rating system.

Do the terms of reference include an inquiry into what seems to an Englishman to be the odd practice of requiring that houses shall be deroofed before the owner can be let off rates?

Did not the Secretary of State indicate in his speech that the terms of reference would be wider?

The exact terms which the right hon. Gentleman used and the terms he is using now are contradictory.

Education

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will issue a White Paper setting out the methods adopted in Scotland to solve the administrative problems of religious education?

A White Paper (Cmd. 6426) with regard to the provision made for religious instruction in the schools in Scotland was presented to Parliament last month, and it deals with the subject raised in the hon. Member's Question.

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has remitted any special inquiries or asked for any interim reports from the reconstituted Advisory Council on Education and the Youth Advisory Committee?

After obtaining the views of the Advisory Council on Education as to the subjects into which they should inquire and their relative urgency, and with the approval of the Council of Ex-Secretaries of State, I have made five remits to the Advisory Council. I will with my hon. Friend's consent circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am at present discussing with the Chairman of the Scottish Youth Advisory Committee the subjects into which inquiry should be made by that Committee.

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is intending to introduce an Education Bill for Scotland this Session?

I am afraid that in the present Session of Parliament there will be no opportunity for a Scots Education Bill.

Bombed-Out Families (Housing)

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will ensure that in bombed areas house factors, when re-letting vacant private houses and flats, give preference to bombed-out families who are at present homeless?

I have no power to require property owners to let empty houses to families who have been rendered homeless by enemy action, but I understand that in at least one area the local authority have been able to come to an arrangement with the property owners under which a preference is given to such families. I welcome arrangements of this kind, and I hope that the publicity which will be given to my hon. Friend's Question will serve to encourage such arrangements in other areas. In addition, I have given all local authorities powers to find accommodation for homeless persons by billeting or by the requisitioning of empty houses.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he might seek powers for this purpose, in view of the fact that the arrangements have broken down in so many bombed-out areas?

This is a matter that can hardly be considered by Question and answer. There are very serious difficulties.