asked the Secretary of State for Scotland which county has had the most houses built during 1945–49; which county has had least built; and what is the reason for the disparity.
Lanark built the most with 6,265, and Bute the least with two. The disparity is explained by the entirely different circumstances in the two counties.
Has it escaped the notice of the Secretary of State that Lanark is represented by his hon. Friends while Bute is represented by one of my hon. Friends?
That indicates the intelligence of the people of Lanark.
Could the right hon. Gentleman say if any such factor as past achievement was taken into account when the right hon. Gentleman made the recent allocation of re-building in Scotland?
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on what basis he has authorised the house building programme during the remainder of 1949 and 1950 for the counties and burghs of Scotland; and how far does he consider that his programmes will meet the needs of the homeless.
The allocations to individual local authorities were made after a careful consideration of the needs of each area and of the amount of housing work already in hand so as to secure that the available labour and materials will be used to the best advantage for the completion of the maximum possible number of houses for the homeless.
But how does the right hon. Gentleman reconcile that statement with the letter that I have in my hand from the Saltcoats Town Council which states that the right hon. Gentleman has approved the erection of only 58 houses out of the 1,000 required, and that they go on to say that it is only ministerial control which is hampering the progress that would otherwise be made by the town council?
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman makes a little further inquiry, he will find that the number of houses allocated is in keeping with the number of houses being built in that area.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he proposes to grant power to local authorities to authorise them to issue licences for the building of private houses.
Local authorities may at present, with my approval, issue licences for new houses where national interest or special need can be shown. While the rate of building has recently improved, I am not satisfied that the time has yet come when we could remove the present control without prejudice to the building programmes of local authorities. I am keeping the matter under constant review, however.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that on 1st February the Joint Under-Secretary told us that he hoped to be able to make a more favourable statement after the end of March, and will he therefore, consider this question further?
As the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have noticed, some relaxation has been made in accordance with the principles I have detailed in the first part of my answer; but even in Edinburgh, which the hon. Gentleman represents, where a census was taken of people requiring houses, only an infinitesimal proportion said that they wanted to buy a house.
Is it not a fact that we are at a considerable disadvantage compared with England in this matter of being allowed to build houses, which the English are allowed to do in a much bigger proportion than we are, and why should that be the case?
Is not the reason for that the fact that there was a lack of balance in the Scottish housing programme, and does not the recent allocation suggest that that has been rectified?
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made with the experiments in interior wall finishing in Scotland; and what effects he estimates they will have on housing costs.
Four experimental houses in which prefabricated gypsum plaster panels are used for wall and ceiling linings have been completed and four more are under construction. The experts are now considering the results of these experiments and I am not yet in a position to state what effect they will have on housing costs.
Are these new ideas being applied to aluminium prefabricated houses as well as to others?
No aluminium houses, of course, are now being made in Scotland. This matter is being investigated by the firm who formerly made the aluminium houses with a view to the incorporation of these ideas if they prove satisfactory.
In view of the very desirable reduction in cost which it is suggested that this method will bring about, could my right hon. Friend say when he will be able to give us some more specific information?
This development has created a great interest among all the building people in Scotland and, I believe, also in England. They are all investigating this question, especially with a view to saving the delays occasioned by the lack of plasterers.
Has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State taken into consideration the question of the susceptibility of this type of wall-finishing to fire?
My information is that it is quite resistant to fire.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any information as to how many local authorities operate a house allocation system which provides for a reallocation of tenancies amongst families that have grown to a point of overcrowding; and those whose numbers have decreased.
The management of local authorities' houses is placed by statute in the hands of local authorities themselves and I have no precise information about the extent to which tenancies are re-allocated when family circumstances change. Local authorities have undoubtedly been able to make a considerable contribution to housing where they have been able to make suitable transfers. I have asked the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee to survey local authorities' methods of allocating tenancies and I understand that the Committee are considering the need for such re-allocations.