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Scotland

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 26 April 1949

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Aged People (Care)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what accommodation is being provided for the care of aged people, incapable of looking after themselves and who do not require the services of trained nurses.

Local authorities have a duty under Section 21 of the National Assistance Act to provide residential accommodation for aged people who require care and attention which they cannot get in any other way. The authorities are to carry out this duty in accordance with schemes approved by the Secretary of State. The schemes so far received show that local authorities are anxious to make headway; but present restrictions on building limit developments mainly to the adaptation of existing properties.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the widespread indignation in the City of Glasgow because of the delay in trying to solve this very serious problem?

The City of Glasgow, of course, has a great many problems of building. It has houses, hospitals and feeding centres to build, and this is just one of the many problems which are dependent upon the progress of the building trade.

Has the right hon. Gentleman received the reports, which he indicated would reach him by mid-April, from local authorities on this problem of accommodation for aged people, which I raised some time ago; and has he any evidence to show that the old people will, at a reasonably early date, get this accommodation, which they need so very much?

That is still being investigated. The problem which the hon. Gentleman raised was that of the sick aged people, who come under the regional hospital board. I am going to try to get together all the bodies responsible for the old people to see whether all the different agencies can be fitted in.

Sheep Stocks

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking, in view of the meat shortage, to increase the number of sheep in Scotland.

Encouragement is given to farmers in Scotland to improve and increase their breeding sheep stocks by means of the hill sheep subsidy, by increased prices for fat sheep and for wool, by the provision of rams to crofting townships and by offering grants of half the cost of carrying out schemes for the improvement of hill sheep farms under the Hill Farming Act. Since June, 1947, after the heavy losses of the storms, the number of sheep in Scotland has increased by over 705,000.

Steps have been taken during and since the war to put as many sheep in deer forests as the deer forests can carry, and that policy is being pursued steadily.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree, in view of the present serious meat position, that the time is ripe for a comprehensive review of the maximum use of all our marginal hill and deer forest lands?

I am quite sure that farmers in the Highlands would be very surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman ask that question, because they have been pressed for the last five years and have been doing their maximum.

While the increase of food production is welcomed, will the right hon. Gentleman see that it is not done at the expense of the human population in the Highlands?

One of the limiting factors in the Highlands is that we cannot have cattle without human beings to look after them, and we must re-populate the Highlands with human beings before we can re-populate them with cattle.

School Classes

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of oversize classes in primary, first three years secondary and fourth year and beyond departments of Scottish schools at March, 1949; and what additional accommodation in each department will be available by September, 1949.

At December, 1948, there were 238 oversize classes in primary departments, 680 in the first three years of secondary departments, and 132 in the fourth and subsequent years. It is expected that about 250 primary and fully 300 secondary rooms under construction now will be available by September, 1949.

Building Apprentices (Instruction)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the education authorities presently providing day instruction facilities for building apprentices; how many apprentices are taking advantage of the facilities; and what is the estimated cost of these facilities to the Treasury for the current year.

Day instruction for a total of 1,048 building apprentices is provided by the Education Authorities of Dundee, Glasgow, Fife, Lanark and Stirling. Additional facilities will be provided by Edinburgh Education Authority next month, and it is hoped that provision will be made in Aberdeen next session. It is estimated that the grant from the Education (Scotland) Fund towards the cost of these facilities during the current year will amount to about £12,000.

Is the Secretary of State satisfied that he is getting the full co-operation of the building employers in this matter?

No, Sir, I am not satisfied. In many cases the building employers do not seem to appreciate the value of this work, and I think that they might do a little more to co-operate.

Prison Officers, Carstairs

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the serious delay which has occurred in dealing with representations from the Prison Officers' Association concerning the position of the staffs employed at Carstairs State Institution, including representations regarding official recognition and negotiating machinery; and whether he will take steps to expedite an immediate settlement of these outstanding matters.

Agreement has been reached over a large part of the field and steps are being taken to expedite a settlement on the matters still outstanding.

Television

48.

asked the Postmaster-General when he proposes to set up a television station in Scotland.

My right hon. Friend regrets there is nothing he can acid to the answer which he gave to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) on 6th April.

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the weight of population in the central belt in Scotland justifies some plan being made for some such station?