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Empty Houses

Volume 884: debated on Wednesday 22 January 1975

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of houses built for the corporation of Glasgow since 1945 which are now unoccupied and unlet; how many have been unoccupied and unlet for periods of four, eight, 12 and over 12 weeks, respectively, at the latest convenient date; how much revenue in rent and rates has been lost to the city of Glasgow in the most recent 12 months; how much is the current monthly loss; and whether Her Majesty's Government are still paying subsidies on these empty houses.

I do not have the information readily available in the form requested. However, at the end of November 1974 Glasgow Corporation had 263 houses available for letting but unlet for more than eight weeks. I shall write to my hon. Friend giving what further information can be provided. Government subsidies are not affected by temporary vacancies in houses available for letting.

Is my hon. Friend aware that I, too, was unable to obtain the relevant statistics? Is he aware also that in my constituency and in his constituency, on any criteria, the number of empty council houses, ignoring those vacant because they require modernisation, must run to about 1,000? This is quite unacceptable in a city like Glasgow, which is terribly short of housing accommodation. Will he set up an inquiry into all aspects of housing, including demolition, construction, modernisation, repair and letting in the city of Glasgow?

My hon. Friend is quite right. He does not need to remind me that I have some of this problem in my constituency. However, in fairness to and in appreciation of the efforts Glasgow has made, it should be said that the number of unlet houses has been reduced from 900 to below 500 in the last few months, so there has been a considerable improvement.

As for any longer-term assistance that we can give to Glasgow to help it to cope with its housing problem, together with my noble Friend I have had two meetings with the Glasgow authority to see in what way we can assist it to overcome some of its problems.

Does the figure of 263 for Glasgow, to which the Under-Secretary referred as houses which were available for letting, cover houses which are not available for letting but which are empty and awaiting maintenance workers to put right the results of vandalism or disrepair? The hon. Gentleman and I both represent large housing estates. Is he aware that there appears to be a major problem of houses lying empty for a long time and damaging the amenities of the area, simply because there is some delay in maintenance? Will he, with his officers, look into the question of maintenance procedures in Glasgow?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the proportion is about half and half. Half of the number of houses due at any one time are empty because they are ready for letting but are not taken up. The other half are empty because they are being repaired or undergoing modernisation or some other treatment. There have been considerable improvements in this regard and I hope that the efforts that Glasgow has made in the last two months will continue.