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House Purchase Facilities (Discussions)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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41.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what new arrangements he is making to assist per sons of small resources to purchase houses; and how far these arrangements will apply to old houses as well as new ones.

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his plans for introducing a house-purchase plan for Scotland.

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give an assurance that the Scottish scheme for house-purchase will be no less favourable to prospective purchasers than that announced for England and Wales.

My right hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary discussed the adoption of a scheme of this kind, concerning both new and existing houses, with representatives of the three local authority associations, on 2nd April, and negotiations with the building societies operating in Scotland are now proceeding. I shall make a statement on the outcome as soon as possible.

Is the Minister not aware that when the Minister of Housing and Local Government makes an important statement of this kind it throws the Press and other people in Scotland into confusion, because they do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will make a similar pronouncement in regard to Scotland? Cannot the Minister arrange at least for simultaneous statements to clear up the question of what is to be done in one country and what is to be done in the other?

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it would have been advantageous to do this, but owing to the negotiations which are now going on with the building societies in Scotland—where a large number of English building societies also operate—I was not in a position to make a statement. I hope to be able to do so shortly.

Will my right hon. Friend, specifically in answer to my Question No. 61, reassure the House that the scheme will be no less favourable to prospective house purchasers in Scotland than it is to those in England and Wales?

I trust that will be the case. So far as I possibly can give my hon. and gallant Friend an assurance to that effect, I am glad to do so, but, as he knows, there are differences in law and rating between Scotland and England.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he was not taken by surprise when the Minister made this statement last week and that the Government as a whole, not Ministers on their own, have been considering the problem?

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, for the very good reason that I stated in my original answer that the Joint Under-Secretary of State—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"]—my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) —started discussions on 2nd April, and the Minister of Housing and Local Government made his statement on 4th May.

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is a report on his files from the Central Advisory Committee set up by one of his predecessors on the whole subject of house purchase in Scotland? Will he make himself familiar with the recommendations of that Committee, and will he further take into consideration the difference between Scotland and England in regard to rating, so that Scottish houseowners will not be prejudiced?

I have just referred to the difference between Scotland and England in regard to rating. As to the general principle, it would help me a great deal to know that the party opposite did welcome house ownership.