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Scotland

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1949

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Housing

28.

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?

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?

31.

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.

32.

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?

33.

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?

36.

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.

Spectacles

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications have been received for spectacles; how many have been supplied; and at what date may all applicants expect to have their needs met.

The number of persons found to be in need of glasses up to the end of May was approximately 775,000, of whom over 410,000 persons had been supplied. The waiting period at present varies from three to six months. The output of glasses is increasing and numbers of new applicants diminishing, so I expect that the waiting period will now quite rapidly decrease.

Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the Question? How many applications have been received; not how many have been approved.

The point is the number of persons who were found, after they had applied, to be in need of glasses. We do not record the number of people who apply.

My Question was how many applications have been received. I was anxious to ascertain consumer demand.

Is it not a fact that there were a large number of shortsighted people in Scotland in 1945?

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate to the House whether he applies, and if so how, any scheme of priorities to those most urgently needing spectacles?

A certain amount of influence has been used in the case of children in special circumstances, and the people supplying these glasses have been very considerate. The demand has been overwhelming, showing the great need in past years that has never been met.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether foreign eyesight has proved more sensitive or less sensitive to shortness than the British variety?

I have no particulars of any foreigner who has been able to wait long enough in this country to get glasses. However, I have details of the number of mythical and other foreigners who have received dental treatment, and only 12 cases have been treated in Scotland, mostly for emergency toothache.

Maintenance Orders

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he intends to introduce legislation this session to facilitate the reciprocal enforcement of orders for aliment and maintenance in Scotland and England.

I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department with a view to introducing legislation on this subject when time permits.

Can the Secretary of State give any indication as to whether it will be soon, in view of the reply given by the Home Secretary in February that legislation would be introduced soon?

We are both anxious to do this but, as the hon. Lady knows, there has been a good deal of complaint about our pressing the House to pass too much legislation and we are reluctant to force the pace any quicker,

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman persuade his colleague to take out some of the nonsense and put in this useful Measure instead?

Loch Goil (Inquiry)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has yet received the report of the inquiry into the proposed closing of Loch Goil; and when its findings will be announced.

The report of the Commission appointed to hold the inquiry has been received and I hope that a decision can be announced soon.

Road Accident, Glasgow

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that another child has recently been killed between Wellshot Road and Chester Street, Shettleston, Glasgow, by a Scottish Motor Traction omnibus; and if he will draw the attention of the police to the excessive speed of these omnibuses and take steps to have these infringements of the law stopped.

I am aware that on 22nd May last a boy aged 10 years was knocked down and fatally injured in Shettleston Road, Glasgow, just West of Chester Street, by an omnibus owned by the Scottish Motor Traction Company, Limited. The boy ran from behind an East-going tramcar into the path of the omnibus and I understand there is no evidence that the omnibus was travelling at an excessive speed. Shettleston Road, like other main traffic thoroughfares in Glasgow through which omnibus services are operated, is given regular attention by the police road patrol and there is no evidence of any regular tendency by drivers of omnibuses to exceed the speed limit in that street.

As a considerable number of children have been killed in and about this area, and as these buses do, in fact, travel at an excessive speed—I have seen them do so repeatedly—would the Secretary of State sympathetically consider approaching the Ministry of Transport with a view to diverting the limited stop buses proceeding to Edinburgh, Airdrie, and other places so as to make use of the Edinburgh road instead of going through a congested area with narrow streets?

I have already approached my right hon. Friend, who will, no doubt, look into this question.

Does not the remedy lie in more stringent action being taken by schools to teach children how to cross roads and to avoid traffic?

Tuberculosis Cases

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many pulmonary tuberculosis cases in Scotland are awaiting hospital treatment.

At 31st December, 1948, the latest date for which complete figures are available, the number was 2,598.

Nurses (Training)

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of nurses, trained, and undergoing training in Scotland for the years 1947, 1948 and 1949 respectively.

The numbers on the Register at 31st March in each of the years 1947, 1948 and 1949, were 18,101, 19,216 and 19,761 respectively. The numbers in training at the same dates were 6,084, 6,133 and 6,968.

Disability Pensions

40.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether it is his practice in claims for disability pensions for diabetes where it cannot be proved conclusively that war service did not cause or aggravate the complaint, to give the applicant the benefit of the doubt and to award a pension.

The Royal Warrant requires me to give a claimant the benefit of any reasonable doubt whether in regard to diabetes or any other disease, and this is invariably done.

In view of the conflict of medical opinion about the cause and development of diabetes, and in view of the fact that it is not always possible for a Service man to produce a correct day-to-day record of his active service, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that he always gives Service men the benefit of the doubt?

Yes, Sir. This disease has been considered very carefully indeed by the tribunals and by the High Court; rules have been laid down and precedents established. We try our best to follow the rulings given by the courts and tribunals and if we fail the applicant always has the right of further appeal.