§ 3.51 p.m.
Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
I am sure that every hon. Member of the Comimttee will have noticed with at least some measure of satisfaction the increase in the number of permanent houses that have been completed during the last three years, although, at the same time, they might have been concerned to observe that in 1949 the total number of houses completed fell short by some 3,000 of those completed in 1948. No matter which of these figures of the completion of houses we take, it seems to me that they are equally inadequate to meet the situation which confronts our country, and which, in my opinion, is as acute today as it has ever been in our history.
For instance, never, so far as I have been able to discover, have more families had no homes of their own and been obliged to live in single rooms, either in the houses of their parents or in those of someone else. A single-apartment house, 591 although we well know all its deficiencies, can still be a home, as I know from experience when visiting some of my constituents who live in these houses. A single room in another person's house is another matter. So far as I can discover, it frequently results in a situation approaching that which hitherto, I believe, existed only in the infernal regions, and which no one would wish even their worst enemies to suffer. That is one aspect of the housing situation in Scotland. Another is overcrowding and there I cannot find that any real improvement is taking place.
Another aspect is the deterioration which is taking place in existing houses, and I submit that in our great cities it is now proceeding at a rate and on a scale which is causing the greatest possible anxiety to the local authorities concerned and all those interested in the welfare of their fellow citizens. I do not believe that at any time the housing situation in Scotland has been more serious than it is today, or the cause of more misery than it is creating today.
Glasgow is typical, proportionately, of all the towns in the industrial belt of Scotland, and the situation there is that there is a waiting list exceeding 94,000. Of that total, 36,000 are classified as homeless, 29,000 as overcrowded, 1,750 as people waiting to be married, and 27,000 living in old, out-of-date properties and who have been on the waiting list for a considerable number of years. It was against that background that the Secretary of State for Scotland found himself able to allocate, originally, 2,870 houses to Glasgow for the year 1949–50.
I should like to quote one or two cases of the kind that exist in Glasgow today, which have come under my own observation. No doubt, in the degree of misery which they illustrate, they can be matched and perhaps even surpassed, in the experience of other hon. Gentlemen, but I merely put them forward as examples of the conditions which exist in every town and city in Scotland today. I have with me the actual correspondence in relation to these examples, in case the right hon. Gentleman thought I bad received the information only by telephone, and was perhaps giving a garbled version of it.
The first is of a man and his wife, with a grown-up son, who occupy one room in 592 a house, while one of their daughters, with her husband and three children, occupy another room, and I am sorry to say that that lady is suffering from tuberculosis. Another room is occupied by another daughter, her husband and child, while another child is expected in the near future. The second case to which I wish to draw attention is that of the widow of a man who served in the Merchant Navy and lost his life during the war. With her four children, she resides in a garret. She has had her name on the waiting list for 11 years, and has been informed that there is no possibility of her being rehoused for a very considerable period of time.
The last case to which I wish to draw attention is one of considerable overcrowding. The family here lives in accommodation which is divided into two compartments. In one of these, there are the man and his wife, and, in the other, 10 children, six sons and four daughters, whose ages range from 22 to two years, the eldest girl being 17½. This is the particular point to which I wish to draw the attention of the Committee, and it appears in the correspondence which has passed on the matter. The local authority has said, with regard to this case, that the family's application for municipal accommodation was lodged only in February, 1944, and, for the type of accommodation suitable for the family, there are a great many urgent applications, many of which have been years longer on the waiting list.
One does not need to continue with examples of that kind. Glasgow has 94,000 people on the waiting list, and, if one reckons an average of three to a family, that represents 282,000 people. Other hon. Members could multiply examples of this kind, but none of us can tell what all this adds up to in terms of misery, frustration, nervous exhaustion, and, it may well be, immorality and even crime. The situation as I see it calls for even greater consideration and more drastic action than it has ever received up to the present time.
In 1914—in the "bad old days," I suppose—there were many unoccupied houses throughout Scotland, and, in case any hon. Gentleman opposite may think that these houses were unoccupied because they were not within the reach of the incomes of average people in the working 593 classes, I would tell him that, of the houses in Scotland which were unoccupied at that time, and there were 13,178 altogether, no fewer than 12,096 were available and within the reach of the incomes of the average working class family. That was the situation at Whitsuntide 1914. By 1919, there were practically no unoccupied houses in Scotland, and a very great demand for houses, and, between 1919 and 1939, no fewer than 337,173 houses were actually built.
I want to give the actual rate of building during that period, and, to begin with, I shall take the first six years, because, in that period, the local authorities were getting on with their job and the building industry was working up its strength. Down to December, 1925, the average rate of building was 7,505 houses per annum. In the following five-yearly periods, that is, until the end of 1930 and the end of 1935, respectively, the average rate of building was 18,007 in the first case, and 20,955 in the second.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain the sudden jump in those years?
Of course. The hon. Gentleman may not like the answer, but I will give it to him. These figures were worked out during the period of office of Conservative and Unionist Governments, and I am sorry to have to inform the hon. Gentleman that during the years 1930 and 1931—and he knows well which party was in office then—there was a serious fall from 19,000 to 12,000 a year in the number of houses completed.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
I thought that in that period there were no Conservative or Unionist Governments.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us under what Act those houses were built? Was it under the Wheatley Act?
They were built under a variety of Acts, as the hon. Gentleman knows. If we take the five years down to 31st December, 1939, we 594 find that the average rate of building at that time was 24,646 houses. I believe that the Committee in general will be of opinion that, even at that average rate of building, it would have taken us a very long time to reach the standard of housing that existed in England, which was far less than the standard we would have liked to see. But, on the other hand, progress was being made. For instance, the percentage of population overcrowded had been reduced from 45 per cent. in 1911 to 23 per cent. in 1938. The advance was slow; that is certainly true, and hon. Gentlemen opposite made a great deal of play with that, and, indeed, gave evidence from time to time of a great deal of indignation.
For the purposes of my argument, I want to suppose that the pre-war rate of building—that is, in the five years before the war—was at least adequate to maintain the position, and I want to examine what happened after that. From 1940 until the end of 1945, that is, a period of six years, practically 30,000 houses were built, the average rate being 4,973. In other words, during that period we fell short on the basis of the prewar average by 118,037 houses. Since that period—that is, in the four years up to 31st December, 1949—we built in Scotland 63,517 houses, and the average rate of building for the period—I am talking about permanent houses—was 15,879 a year. I submit that we could have done much better had this Government of planners only worked to some settled plan.
§ Mr. Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs) rose——
The hon. Gentleman must really let me go on unless there is something definite he wants to ask. I have a great deal to say, and will probably answer his point later on.
I think the Government could have done better. After all, they hailed themselves as a Government of planners, but they worked to no settled plan what soever. The industry was capable of a far greater output. The manpower employed in those four years was equal to, or greater than, that employed in the pre-war years.
On building as a whole. Incidentally, I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that will help my argument later on, and I shall deal with that point then.
That the level of productivity had fallen in 1947 by one-third from the prewar level, and that it is still below that level, is not, in my opinion, entirely the fault of the building industry, but is due in large part to the shilly-shallying of the Government, to its changes in policy, to the errors in the allocation of materials, to the lack of a steady flow of materials to the site, and to the fact that on the site there was little visible evidence that materials were at hand. But, be that as it may, in those four years, judged by the pre-war average, we had fallen short by another 33,544 houses. In other words, as the result of the war we are short of 151,581 houses. Therefore, at the present rate of building, it is going to take us six years to recover the pre-war position.
It may be objected that I have not taken into account the 32,000 temporary houses which have been built in Scotland. I have purposely left them out of account because we are informed that the lifetime of those houses is only 10 years, and, if that be so, then I cannot see that they are making any permanent contribution to the solution of the housing problem. The figures I have given will, I think, give the Committee some slight idea of the extent of our problem. As a matter of fact, it is even more serious than the figures would appear to indicate. That is because the population has increased rather faster than was anticipated and because deterioration is taking place at a very rapid rate.
There is another way of examining the serious nature of this situation. In the report, "Planning Our New Homes," issued by the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee—the report is dated November, 1943—it is stated:The present accumulated arrears of new houses required in Scotland amount to at least 500,000. This total represents a basic need.In the intervening six and a half years, according to my calculations, there is little or no difference in the situation, and I submit that in order to replace unfit houses, to get rid of overcrowding, and to provide homes for the increase in the 596 number of families that has occurred we need at least 500,000 houses now. At the present rate of building, it is going to take 20 years to give us that number, and in that 20 years many of our present houses will have fallen down and many others fallen into such a condition of decay as to become uninhabitable, so that, unless steps are taken we shall possibly find 20 years hence that we are not as well off as we are today.
Therefore, it seems to me that by some means or other we have to speed up the building of houses, and I believe that if we are willing to take the necessary measures that can be done. I do not think that contention can be disputed in view of the two reports which we have just received, the one from the productivity team on building recently returned from the United States of America, and the other from the working party set up by the Minister of Works.
Before I continue, I want to say that when I mention the figure of 500,000 houses I am really being somewhat conservative. I went to the trouble of working it out, but the answer is to be found in Cmd. No. 6552 where the figure is put at 518,000 instead of the 500,000 which I mentioned. There are eight Englishmen and Welshmen to every Scotsman, and in England before the war they built four million houses. Therefore, on the basis of population, as I said a moment ago, we should have 500,000 more houses in that period than we have. We fall short of England by 162,827 houses.
There are those, of course, who say that houses should not be calculated in comparison with England and Scotland on the basis of population, but rather on the Goschen formula; that if that is the correct way to allocate funds between Scotland and England, it should certainly be the correct way to allocate houses between the two countries. If, in fact, that basis were to be used, it would be found that in the inter-war years we fell short of England by another 50,000, so that we are 212,827 houses behind. I have been asking myself why that should be. I think I have found out the answer in the report of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee—to which I have already referred—and if any right hon. or hon. Member cares to look at page 10 of that document he will find there are two 597 graphs and that below the second graph these words appear:Graph of houses built in Scotland and in England and in Wales between the two great wars. The graph shows that on a proportionate population basis the output of new houses in England and Wales was consistently higher than in Scotland. This is mainly due to the fact that 30 houses were built by private enterprise in England and Wales for each house so erected in Scotland.The Committee will remember that the report was signed by one who afterwards became Secretary of State for Scotland, the late Right Hon. Joseph Westwood. The finding of that Committee has been ignored completely during the past five years. If we take that report and the experience in England and Wales between the wars, they must point the road Scotland must take to obtain even the minimum of houses required within a reasonable period of time.
The present system of allocating houses here and there to private builders is one which no building organisation whatsoever could operate with full efficiency, though to increase allocations to individual private builders would certainly provide more houses in a certain period of time. If the private builder were given a reasonable area to develop so as to allow a continuous sequence of operations, I am convinced, on the evidence, that we would get much speedier building and a progressive decrease in costs. I claim both are essential to the national well-being of our country.
I want to make a suggestion by which I believe we could even increase the number of houses being completed under the existing system. Local authority building must certainly be slower than building by private builders. A committee cannot come to decisions with the same speed as individuals can. I cannot imagine why, when that is so, we take pains to slow down local authority building even further by insisting that every decision must be submitted to and obtain the approval of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I say with all deference and respect to those concerned that our cities and other local authorities employ men who are just as competent and perhaps more experienced and certainly more knowledgeable in relation to local conditions than those in the office of the right hon. Gentleman.
598 Yet the work these men do, after it has been approved by the housing committee and the local authority as a whole in many cases, has to be submitted to St. Andrews House which can and does make suggestions and lays down the law on occasion with regard to details with which it should have no concern and no right to interfere. The right hon. Gentleman would do well to inquire into that matter. The object of an injuiry should be to eliminate duplication of work and, which is more important, to restore to local authorities a proper measure of authority and independence. If too much control and supervision is exercised and there is too much interference from St. Andrews House that can be just as vexatious as centralised control from Whitehall.
There is another matter which, if looked into, might also speed up the building of houses. I refer to the Town and Country Planning Act. The Minister's right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning has evidently made some suggestions about easing control under that Act. This was referred to earlier today in the House. I hope that the Secretary of State is contemplating something of the same kind. Perhaps he will inform the House when he replies to this Debate.
When our economy is stretched as it is, and the provision of houses is so inadequate to meet the need for accommodation, existing houses become assets of great value indeed. They should be cared for and kept under repair. Unfortunately that has not happened because those who own the great proportion of our houses have not the necessary money for that purpose. Since 1914 rents have increased by 47½ per cent., and owners' rates have increased by 222 per cent. The cost of repairs has increased by 500 per cent. Consequently, money for most urgent repairs is not to be found in many cases.
The result is that deterioration is very great indeed. We can all see it when we walk down the main streets of our cities and towns. We can see woodwork which has not been painted for many years, places where pointwork is necessary, and rhones and down-pipes and other ironwork in poor shape. But I am told that the things we cannot see from outside are very much worse and indeed a danger to the houses themselves.
599 There is an increasing number of houses being shut down because they are in a dangerous condition. As conditions are today that number is bound to increase rapidly.
Unless action is taken soon the country will be faced with a somewhat alarming situation and the bill which it will be called upon to meet will be out of all proportion to what it might have been if obviously necessary steps had been taken in time.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has been a little bit too quick. It is for the Government to decide what action to adopt. I warn the Minister that action is essential. It is called for now, immediately before it is too late.
§ The Lord Advocate
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain what he considers the action should be that he is accusing us of not carrying out?
I am drawing the attention of the Committee to the situation. The Government is the body that has to decide what to do. If it is not the Government's duty, whose is it? The Government should do the right thing and see that the assets of the country are preserved. Is it not the duty of the Government to defend the country, or have I to tell them what to do? I do not know what the Government are there for if they are not going to act as I have suggested.
Since the Act of 1949 the local authorities build for the entire population. Government policy, as explained in this House time and time again, is that housing need alone shall determine to whom the local authority shall give the houses. No account is taken of the financial position of the would-be tenant. Every municipal tenant is subsidised by the remainder of the community. That is a situation which, if Government policy is honestly implemented, will soon cease to be what it is—ridiculous—and become intolerable.
Apart from the subsidy from the taxpayer, the subsidy from the ratepayer is rising very steeply. In Glasgow in 1946–47 it was £345,000, in 1948–49 it was £455,000 and the estimate for the 600 year ending on the 31st of this month is £580,000. That is an increase in one year from 9¼d. to Is. on the rates. If the present economics of housing continue that increase on rates will also be continued. Has not the time really come to call a halt? How long are the less well-off in many cases to continue to subsidise those who are better off than themselves? Surely Government policy demands an economic rent should be paid by all who are able to pay it, and only those who are unable to do so ought to be subsidised. Of course, I may be wrong, and it may be that the economics of Socialism demand that the Government should distribute its largess indiscriminately over the whole population without any reference to need at all.
I have been endeavouring to deal with the general situation. There are many aspects of the housing position in Scotland which I have not had time even to mention, far less to discuss. One instance of very considerable importance is in regard to rural housing. I do not know when the Government will become alive to the injustice which they are inflicting just now on agricultural workers, or when indeed they are going to realise the complete absurdity of their present attitude. After all, the Government are building today tied houses for any number of people—for the police, the miner, the key industrial worker, the forestry worker and the agricultural worker as well, and these houses are tied to the occupation. On Tuesday the right hon. Gentleman, wriggle as he did, could not manage to wriggle out of that. Yet on no principle whatsoever but simply to justify a childish spite, the Government withhold the subsidy for improvements to agricultural cottages while at the same time admitting that many of them must be tied to a particular farm. They do that while granting a subsidy for improvements to every other kind of dwelling. I have no doubt that some of my hon. Friends will allude further to the question of rural housing later on in the Debate.
Neither the present rate of building nor the increased rate of 27,500 which the right hon. Gentleman, I think, foreshadowed for the year 1952, is sufficient to remedy the situation in which we find ourselves. More houses must be built. They must be built quickly and at lower cost, and we must have houses both to let 601 and to buy. The policy which the Government have pursued in the last five years and which they are still pursuing shows no sign of meeting the urgent need of the Scottish people. It is quite useless for the Government to say that it cannot be done. It must be done. Everyone knows it, and it can be done if the will to do it is there.
I want to make this perfectly plain as being my view of the situation. Of all the services, housing comes first and is priority No. 1. Without adequate housing we cannot have a reasonably full family life, and it is quite impossible without reasonable standards of housing to bring up children as they ought to be brought up. Indeed, the whole social edifice rests on insecure foundations unless we have a reasonable standard of housing, and much of the money that we are spending on health and education is simply being wasted. Good housing we must have, even though it should call for sacrifice in some other directions.
Let us consider for a moment the present labour force. The labour force is now higher than it was pre-war, but it is not building to anything like its full capacity. We are producing about the same number of houses that we did prewar, and here I come to the point on which the right hon. Gentleman wanted to question me earlier. During this past year, 52 per cent. of the houses built in Scotland have been of the non-traditional type, of non-traditional construction, and we learn from "New Methods of House Construction" recently published by the Ministry of Works:The best types of these non-traditional houses examined show a 50 per cent. saving in labour requirements.I may say that since the end of the war 45 per cent. of all the houses built in Scotland have been of the non-traditional type, and therefore there ought to have been a very great increase in the number of houses completed by the labour force that we have. But the labour force, even when it is giving of its best, if it is found not to be sufficient for our requirements, has got to be enlarged. Incentives have got to be found and training schemes have got to be provided. Given these, with the steady volume of work which is in sight for a generation or more ahead, and with decent, proper leadership, I 602 have no doubt that the manpower required will be forthcoming.
Is there a shortage of materials? Some people say that we cannot get on because of the shortage of materials. That has been denied in the House time and time again from the Government Front Bench, with one exception, and that exception is timber. If we cannot get sufficient timber for our needs from non-dollar areas, I submit that we have got to make sacrifices elsewhere so that dollars will be available to provide all the timber that the building industry can use, working to its full capacity.
I feel that the time has come when there has to be a change of policy in regard to housing and a change in the attitude of the Government to housing. I thought that the attitude of the Government was very well exemplified by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State on Tuesday last when he was answering a Question which had been put to him by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Lieut.-Commander Hutchison). So far as I could understand it, there were 32 houses lying in a semi-completed state in Edinburgh. The right hon. Gentleman refused any licence to get those houses completed. I think that in refusing the necessary licences he is wasting material and labour. If these houses can be completed quicker than the ordinary houses can be built, the right hon. Gentleman is denying the accommodation of 32 houses to the people of Scotland who need them so badly.
I do not want to disagree with the general conclusion which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has reached. His assumption, however, is wrong. I have not withheld licences I have indicated to the contractor that if he is willing to make the houses available to people who need houses and who are accepted by the local authority as needing houses, and is prepared to offer a price, I will look at the matter willingly.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a condition. He will issue the licences under a condition. Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that without any conditions, if these houses can be completed quicker——
It all depends on what the cost of building these houses has been. I do not know what type of houses they are. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not expect the unfortunate man whose houses have been lying like that for 10 years to hand them over for a price which would probably render him bankrupt or something of that kind? I say deliberately that if my contention is correct, the right hon. Gentleman is withholding housing accommodation from the people of Scotland who need it so very badly.
I should like the right hon. Gentleman among other things to examine the Report of the Sorn Committee. I want him to do what I consider all experience suggests, and that is to reduce to the minimum the interference of St. Andrew's House with local authority building. I would ask him further to put the private builder into a position where he can work to the fullest possible efficiency of private enterprise. If the right hon. Gentleman does these things, he will give to Scotland houses both to let and to buy in greater numbers and more quickly than hitherto.
§ 4.29 p.m.
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. McNeil)
I am sure the whole of the Committee would wish to acknowledge our indebtedness to the Opposition and to the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) for giving us the opportunity of discussing this subject. I should like to take the opportunity of emphasising that nothing that is offered of a constructive kind will be overlooked; nor would I for a second flinch from or complain about criticism, no matter how pointed, if it is constructive. I do not deny that the hon. and gallant Gentleman brings the Committee right up against the problem when he reads the type of case which he has offered to the Committee today. I think every hon. Member, as indeed he admitted, could compete in this offering of misery and it is for that reason that I say, I hope without presumption, that he is quite right to remind us again of these facts.
But I do not think any amount of pleading of that kind, and I doubt very much whether statistical examination of the past, will help us in our present task. There is an abundance of debating points 604 which can be made in every corner of this subject. The hon. and gallant Gentleman made some of them and there are some to which, I think, I should attempt to reply. For example, we come back again and again to this plea, either explicit or implied, that if private enterprise were permitted to do the job, everything would solve itself.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman offered some figure, in this connection. But who prohibited private enterprise from building between the wars? What impeded private enterprise from building between the wars? Who? What? The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that nothing prevented these contractors, these men and that money from going into private building in Scotland or elsewhere between the wars. Indeed, to some extent they did. The hon. and gallant Gentleman offered some figures to show how excellent had been their performance and, subsequently, some figures to show how miserable other performances had been.
Let us look at these two sets of figures. The hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot pretend that the supply of houses under that system was adequate between the wars and then, in a breath later, quote from the Westwood Committee Report which, according to my recollection, was in 1943, that there was a deficiency of 500,000 houses. He cannot have both sides of that argument. If the flow was adequate before the war then arrears of 500,000 could not have occurred in four years.
When it was unrestricted, private enterprise did not provide an adequate supply of houses and, if that is conceded, then the Westwood Report is only commenting on a situation which had been created, let us agree, partly by the Government, partly by the local authority and partly by private enterprise. The blame does not rest on any one place and to pretend that it does takes us no further forward.
Let us look at another of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's statements which, I thought, was utterly irrelevant and slightly unfair. He quoted the comparative rates of housebuilding in Scotland and in England during the war years, and 605 I am not sure that he did not attempt to use that comparison to show how good private enterprise was at the job. At any rate, he said that the Goschen formula had not here been observed. Let me put a question to him. Was the Goschen formula observed in the distribution of bombs? Because that is the reason why the rate of building in England was so much greater in England during the war years than in Scotland. During and after the war the difference in the development of the housing situation has been due to bombing.
The right hon. Gentleman surely is wrong. There was no house building in England during the war years, nor many built in Scotland.
The right hon. Gentleman must understand this; he offered comparative figures for England and Scotland——
For the inter-war years and for the years since the war. There was no house building in England during the war.
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he quoted comparative figures of building during the war.
Perhaps I am doing the hon. and gallant Gentleman an injustice, but I hear support behind me. That was certainly the proposition which the hon. and gallant Gentleman offered the Committee. I will gladly accept from him now that he did not attempt to argue that that disparity should not have been maintained, because the losses in housing in England as a result of bombing, as I know perfectly well he appreciates, were much greater than in Scotland.
I think, too, the hon. and gallant Gentleman was a little heated in his refusal to answer a perfectly fair question put to him by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, who asked what the hon. and gallant Gentleman was implying to the Committee. May I suggest that what he was asking us was, would we do as he wishes us to do—that is, repeal the rent restrictions?
We are getting a little further. The hon. and gallant Gentleman does not want the rent restrictions repealed. Is that so?
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
Let us hear your answer.
The hon. Gentleman will perhaps hear me say a few things if he listens, but I am entitled, in my own stupid and pedantic way, to try to understand what was implied by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok.
Obviously he was not talking about building more houses but about the necessity to end immediately the situation of deterioration. I misunderstood him badly if he was not inferring that there should be an end to the rent restrictions and equally I was misunderstanding him badly if he was not pleading, at the end of his speech, that the owners should be saved from further rate liabilities. I think that is his point, but it would be very interesting for him to go to part of his division and say that.
The right hon. Gentleman is most interesting. If he considers my speech tomorrow and thinks a little bit, he will find that there are many courses which the Government could take to maintain property in the great cities and towns of Scotland other than that which he has suggested. I am asking him to apply his mind to it, as I did in the course of my speech.
I have already addressed myself to this. The hon. and gallant Gentleman must believe that I, who have worked with him and opposite him, have a great respect for his ability and a very great respect for his intimate knowledge of this subject on a housing committee, on a corporation and on some other associations which are more closely tied to property owners and factors. If I now understand that he does not favour for one second the repeal of the rent restrictions nor the saving of owners from 607 further rate liabilities, then the proceedings of this Committee have taken us a step forward. I never accused him of that, but it would make matters much clearer if he said bluntly, now, that he did not favour it.
Let me put another point. The hon. and gallant Gentleman pointed quite properly to the increasing rate burden from the construction of subsidised houses. It is a problem. It is a problem for every local authority, and it is a local authority problem. I worked with and opposite the hon. and gallant Gentleman in a local authority, and I cannot, to the best of my recollection, remember his ever opposing the proposal to erect subsidised houses in Glasgow.
The right hon. Gentleman will, however, remember that there has been a very great change in the circumstances since then. He is talking of a period that is now more than 10 years distant. Further than that, the right hon. Gentleman will remember that this has come about since the passing of the Act of 1949, and he knows as well as I do that there are people better off than himself, and better off than most of us in this Committee, living in subsidised houses, and I definitely say that that is wrong.
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman makes a point there, but that is a matter for the local authorities, and they should exert care in their allocations. It is not an argument against the Act, nor an argument against this method of building houses.
I understood that it was the policy of the Government that houses should be supplied to those in need, and that need was the only criterion.
It is the policy of this Government to make allocations to local authorities—allocations which are based upon judgment of certain factors, including over-crowding, and the number of unhoused in any community; and, on the whole, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, it is working exceedingly well. However, we could go on for a considerable time making points of that kind. With great respect, I do not think it will take us any farther.
608 I think there are only four essential questions we must attempt to answer. The first question, setting aside methods of organisation, on which the hon. and gallant Gentleman commented; greater production, upon which he commented; and general administration, upon which he commented, and with which I shall try to deal later—leaving aside those for a second—the first question is: At the expense of what other sector of production should we seek to expand the number of houses built in Scotland? There is a hard and nasty truth to face. It is a basic proposition. It is, I suggest to the Committee, one which, as responsible representatives of the people, we have an obligation to face and, if we are urging the building of more houses, should answer beyond ambiguity. We have to say where we are prepared to cut, and why we think the cut should be made there.
My hon. Friend comes back to this point again and again. He suffers from a strange aberration. I do not deny for a second that if we were able to save some expenditure on Defence, we might make that money available for some other services. However, he has for years made an over-simplification for which there is no justification. In one case he is talking about capital expenditure——
—and in the other case he is talking about current expenditure. He makes a whole lot of other misassumptions from that initial one. There can be no guarantee at all that, for example, if he took steel from a naval yard and platelayers from a naval yard he would be able to build houses with that material and that labour. I do not deny that there is a relation, that there is a margin where they overlap; but his broad assumption is incorrect. Moreover, we cannot in any circumstances forgo our obligation to make a contribution to the organisation of peace. That is an obligation on any Government.
§ Mr. Hughes
My right hon. Friend accuses me of over-simplification. Is he aware that in this financial statement of the Government, "The Budget and Your 609 Pocket," it is estimated that £1 2s. 6d. per family per week goes in Defence and approximately 2s. 3d. per week per family goes on housing? Does he not think that in this immense disparity there is room for curtailing Defence expenditure and spending more on housing? On the matter of steel, is it not a fact that work on all big tenement houses in Glasgow and other areas has been curtailed because of the lack of steel?
I do not know the second point. I will gladly look at it. However, I would urge my hon. Friend not to console himself with the illusion that these two sums are interchangeable. They are not. They never have been and, they never will be.
However, in examining this housing position we have to decide where else in the building programme we should make a cut in Scotland if we are to build more houses. I would say—I am anxious not to be misunderstood; I do not want to be caricatured as hard-hearted or unsympathetic—I would say that I and my colleagues on this bench will not yield to anyone in our appreciation of the anxieties of the unhoused Scottish people; but I ask the Committee to agree that sympathy will be no substitute for logic and that slogans will not put roofs on any houses, and that neither will statistics put a brick upon a brick.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, East)
And I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that sympathy is no solution for those who believed in promises which have been broken.
We are looking at promises that have been broken. We are looking very carefully at them.
We are in a period of full employment. We are in a period in which skilled building labour in Scotland is already fully committed. The number of unemployed is negligible. The Committee will have noticed the figures which the Minister of Works offered on Tuesday about the extent of building in Scotland. He was, of course, talking only about one sector. The total in value represented by building in Scotland just now runs out at about £90 million; and that is a very substantial sum, and a very adequate commentary upon the extent of our building.
610 Another way of looking at it is to look at the employment figures. In March of this year the building and civil engineering labour force in Scotland was employed in this fashion: 30,600 in new housing work; 25,400 in other housing work; all other work—by that I mean industrial building, social welfare building—took up 60,800. So that it is only as far as we can pull something back from those 60,800 that we can appreciably add to the housing capacity in Scotland at the present.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Can my right hon. Friend say how many are employed on luxury building?
Very few. But I am anxious to concede that I have an obligation, with my colleagues, to make a most scrupulous examination of how that force of 60,800 is employed; and that I am in the process of so doing. I should say, because I want to be honest with the Committee, that at first glance I cannot see much to be pulled back. I shall be glad of information—I shall be glad of help—on this point. One sort of building from which, I think, we may win back a little is that of shops, banks, warehouses. I will look at that, as I am looking at it; and I shall continue to deal with the subject. But I should be dishonest with the Committee if I said I thought that a great deal can be done here. I think that it is an over-simplification. A man wants a job, a woman wants a home, they both want for their child a school, and very likely they want a church, but they certainly want such social necessities as shops and, perhaps, a place of meeting. It takes the mathematics of an Einstein and the judgment of a Solomon to get a precise and equitable distribution there. Let us admit to ourselves that, leaving aside these three other factors, to which I will turn in a second, unless we are prepared to cut off building on one of these other sectors we cannot make an appreciable addition to house building in Scotland at the present time.
There is one feature in the building figures to which I might refer. Of the figure employed on housing other than new housing, which is round about 25,400, I suspect—and I think this is what my hon. Friend is getting at—a proportion of that is engaged upon frills, fads and unessential adaptations and improvisations, 611 and we are trying to get over that. To be fair to the Committee, however, it should be noted that of this group 3,200 are employed by local authorities on repairs, and therefore presumably on essential repairs, so that of the remaining 22,200 a fair proportion must be employed on repairs to the much older tenement buildings and housing properties. There again, even in this suspect sector—and I agree it is suspect—there cannot be very much.
It might be appropriate here, in a couple of sentences, to say something about the complaints that have been made of my reluctance to change immediately, the scheme for private building for purchase by selected categories, so that Scotland could have the same proportion as England. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and I had a brush about this the other day, when I reminded him—although I do not think he needed to be reminded—that private building always occupied a different place as a factor in English building from that which it occupies in Scottish building. I want to add to that, and to say quite clearly that if the building industry can possibly show that they have the ability and the resources to build privately without in any way impairing local authority programmes for building to let, or without impairing other essential building, then I shall be most anxious to review the scheme.
What I am not prepared to do, and what I cannot find any justification for doing, is to transfer houses from those whose needs are greatest, and who have the least financial resources to meet those needs, to others whose circumstances are, I admit, frequently difficult but are incomparably better than those of the great mass of people who figure in our local authority lists. When we have given the present scheme a fair trial, when we are in a position to assess the applications and how they are being met, I will look sympathetically at proposals for revision; but I should tell the Committee that on the information available to me I find it difficult to be convinced that we can make any extension in this scheme without embarrassment to the claims of essential work.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
Is that a position applying to all Scotland, to all counties and all districts; or is the 612 right hon. Gentleman prepared to keep his mind open and face the fact that districts and counties are not all the same, and that their circumstances may be different?.
I have enough room inside my present allocation to make variations for this part of the country or another; I am not tied rigidly to a rule of thumb. It is the intention to keep to the one-in-ten because I must have regard to the industry as a whole, to availability and the capacity of this sector of the industry; I have to keep to the ruling I announced six weeks ago.
§ Mr. Stewart
As I understand the right hon. Gentleman, the one-in-ten rule means that no county may exceed one-in-ten? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman really means?
The intention of the provision I have made is that a local authority shall be permitted, broadly, to the extent of one-in-ten of their allocation to permit private building for these approved categories which I have announced.
That remains to be seen, but it would be thoroughly unreasonable to depart from a scheme which only six weeks ago many hon. Members came half way to approving. Perhaps I do them an injustice. Some people and some newspapers seemed to think then that it was not such a bad thing, that it was worth a trial, but now, without any of the relevant factors in Scotland changing, it has suddenly become timid and bad.
The second question we should ask ourselves is this: Is the organisation of the available labour force, its deployment and employment, as efficient as it might be? I do not want to seem ungrateful, and I am certainly not anxious to pick quarrels with any sector of the industry, but the Committee knows perfectly well that not even the industry itself in Scotland would claim that it was the most efficient industry in the country. The Committee will have noted the report of the Building Industry Working Party, and also the reply of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works, in which he stated on behalf of the Government that the recommenda- 613 tions relating to the industry which fall within the competence of the Government have already in part been acted upon, and that others are being examined. The Government obviously have a vested interest in promoting inside this industry as high a degree of efficiency as possible.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok made some reference—obliquely, I think, but none the less, quite plainly—to productivity. He quoted the proportion of prefabricated houses and non-traditional houses. I think that he is quite right, because we have experienced substantial delay in Scotland in the application of payment by results in the industry. The Scottish National Joint Council for the Building Industry, on which both sides of the industry are represented, have now agreed that incentive schemes may be operated by individual employers in particular jobs. I am not very concerned with past history at this stage. I am concerned to try to get such schemes applied, and my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary and myself are considering what road we could most usefully take to try to expedite this process.
One other method of improving the rate of completion is, of course, the use of non-traditional methods. In the allocations, I have tried to persuade local authorities to take 40 per cent. in the current building year. The Department made an analysis of the houses completed in December last, and how long completion had taken, and the figures came very near to those offered by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok. They found that the traditional house took, on average, 17 months and that the non-traditional house took 11 months.
This is a very impressive difference, so that I have felt that, since local authorities were being pressed to take 40 per cent., and since on average the cost of a non-traditional house is still a little higher than the cost of a traditional house, local authorities were entitled to be insured against unjustifiable delay in the completion of non-traditional houses. I have therefore in these contracts had introduced a clause by which the supplier of the non-traditional house will be liable to be penalised for unjustifiable delay. The period allowed for completion is a varying one, depending upon the size of the scheme. I am only attempting in quite a small way, as I 614 hope the Committee will appreciate, to push on and to improve the rate of production, and at the same time to give the local authority the protection to which I think it is undoubtedly entitled.
There is one other feature of the traditional house which worries me, and which must have worried other Members of the Committee who have any acquaintance with the business of trying to build houses. It is a feature to which the working party drew attention. It is the complete absence in Scotland of a co-ordinator or someone upon whom the responsibility can be pinned. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will, I know, agree that the smaller local authorities more frequently than the larger local authorities have sometimes as many as four to eight contractors involved on one job, and it is not possible to pin down responsibility. I am not brash enough to seek to impose anything upon the industry. I hope that that kind of reconstruction can come from the industry itself, but it is a worrying feature which, I am certain, makes for delay and sometimes even for actual disorganisation.
Before leaving this question, I want to put to the Committee this feature with which, I think, they are familiar. In the increasing use of the non-traditional house we have run into teething trouble. I do not think that it is much higher in proportion than is normal in the application of new methods to industry, but it is there, and both the local authorities and the tenants have a right to protection and a right to expect improvement. I have, therefore, asked the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee to investigate these teething troubles, and I have given to them the following remit:To examine, in the light of experience gained by housing authorities and the Scottish Special Housing Association the present arrangements for securing a satisfactory standard of design and workmanship in non-traditional houses and to make recommendations.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
Does that permit the Association to look back and examine the non-traditional houses which are now in existence, and which are giving great trouble to the local authorities, or is it to apply only in the future?
No, I do not think that I would attempt to tie them in any way. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I think, 615 that in the three types of non-traditional houses where we have come across quite considerable trouble we have made arrangements with the local authorities and contractors, and improvements are being made in many of these cases.
The third question on which I want to say a word is the relationship between the central authority and the local authority. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and as fast as it is possible to make relaxation I shall be in favour of making it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that this feature that the central Department must give approval is not a new one. I think that every Housing Act since 1919. has had that in it. As to the announcement of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning, I am consulting the local authorities' associations which are now dealing with this actual subject, and as soon as I have their agreement to reasonable relaxation, I will come to the House and make an announcement.
While I am talking about the relationship between the central authority and the local authority, I should like to take this opportunity of saying to the hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) that when we were last discussing this subject we cut across each other, and we have had some correspondence. I think that we were both right in the sense that we were both using different terms about the same thing, but so far as I was unfair to him or abused him in any way, I want, on this first appropriate occasion, to apologise to him. I hope that that will not mean that he will deal any more tenderly or mercifully with me.
When we were last discussing this subject, I referred to local authorities under-tendering for allocations. At that time, I said that there were 9,000 houses still outstanding. That was in March. I want to say that the local authorities have responded very zealously and readily to that appeal, and the figures have come down to just about half of that number. There are still some 4,500 allocated, but not tendered for, but that is a very substantial improvement. At that time, too, I pointed to another feature in the general picture which was worrying. It is that houses at that time were being completed each month more quickly than houses 616 were started, and obviously that would lead us into a situation which would mean the run-down of the whole programme. Here, again, the position has improved during the last month, and it looks as if it will continue to improve.
In the full month of March, 2,393 houses were completed and 2,527 started. Part of the general process here is that we must try to make certain that the local authority is assisted by the central Department when it asks for assistance in the business of planning. If the local authorities are denied decent notice, and if their plans are interrupted, then, of course, there is grave harm to the whole process. I have attempted to meet that point of view in part this year by allocating houses two months earlier than was done last year, because that has been possible for me in a way which was not possible for my predecessor—I want to be fair to him. This is helpful, but it is not enough.
The greatest possible assistance that can be given to the local authority and the greatest practical impetus that can be given on this point of pushing up the rate of completion would be to give the local authority the assurance of continuity. In the present circumstances—and I think this would be true whatever Government was in power—we must continue the practice of annual allocations as part of the general capital investment plan, without which, I think, our economic situation would be near to chaotic.
Having considered the facts as fully as I can, I hope that the local authorities will now proceed with their planning on the basis that, subject to overriding changes in Government policy, which I do not anticipate, and the maintenance of satisfactory progress, local authorities' allocations will be repeated at this year's level during the next three years. This ought to give such confidence to local authorities that they will plan efficiently their programme of land acquisition and the preparation of their plans. They have, as I hope the Committee will agree, a clear run-in.
The central organisation have a third duty which the hon. and gallant Gentleman dealt with, and that is to facilitate the supply of raw materials which are in short supply. I do not think it is any longer true to say that timber is in short supply, although sometimes, for seasonal reasons, a temporary shortage may 617 appear in certain areas. For example, I am told that has happened in Aberdeen and Dundee. Here again, we have got round this. Special arrangements have been made with the Timber Control to secure that supplies are made available from the national emergency stocks where contractors are unable to obtain supplies from their local merchants.
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us about the position of pipes? I understand, from a question to the Minister of Works, that there was a shortage of pipes.
My hon. Friend and I have looked through all sectors of the supply position. I think the hon. and gallant Member is referring to gutter-pipes, and my recollection is that there is no real shortage, although there is an occasional tightness. I am sure that if local authorities plan reasonably well ahead and contractors work reasonably ahead, there will be no difficulty at all. The only other case where I know of any limitation is steel. Here we shall continue to use existing substitutes, and with that proviso the position of steel, as well as the other materials, is satisfactory.
I notice from Questions that some Members are in some doubt as to what we propose to do in regard to the restoration of the cuts the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in presenting the Budget. We decided that it would be short-sighted to use this restoration other than to give us an increased number of houses; that is to say, we shall adhere to the circular we issued to local authorities when the cuts were announced last year. The building economies will continue, and so will the higher proportion of three-apartment houses. I have no reason to believe that this does otherwise than meet the needs of local authorities. This will enable us to plan for an increase from the present level of about 25,000 houses a year to about 27,500 houses for 1952.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Has my right hon. Friend not had representations from Ayrshire local authorities against three-apartment houses?
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to look at that. I must say 618 that I cannot recollect having had any such representation. I am quite certain, within my recollection, that we had approval from many of the largest and hardest pressed authorities in the country of this proposal to provide three-apartment houses.
If we could restore the old standards and build larger houses, and if there were no restrictions, I would do it, but the decision has to be taken within the factors to which I have alluded. In the circumstances, I think the wise decision is to use the restored cuts to give us, and to continue to give us, a larger number of houses. I do not pretend that this is a matter in which I can promise any miracles, and it would be utterly dishonest to the Committee if I promised that.
I have tried to show the Committee the limiting factors, and I think, without presumption, that I am entitled to ask Members, if they think we can increase the number of houses, to show how it can be done. It can only take place at the expense of some other processes—there may be a case for that, but it has to be displayed—except in so far as we can improve production without added cost by such methods as I have described. Anything that is said on that point we shall be glad to note and examine. We are aware of the urgency and the importance of housing, and my hon. Friend and I will give the subject our constant attention, which the Committee has every right to insist on.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I hope I may be pardoned for pointing out that there are a great many hon. Members who wish to speak in this Debate, and that if speeches can be kept short not so many will be disappointed at 10 p.m.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Clyde (Edinburgh, North)
I crave the indulgence of the Committee on the occasion of my maiden speech. I know that on such occasions it is customary to avoid acute controversy. In an evenly balanced Parliament such as this, it might be assumed that there would be ample opportunities for speaking on non-controversial issues, but I must confess that I have not so far had my interest sufficiently aroused on these non-controversial issues to justify me in rising to my feet. I did not feel that cattle- 619 grids were sufficient to stir me to make my maiden speech.
I find myself, therefore, rising to speak on a matter in regard to which feelings run high and views on both sides differ fundamentally. A maiden speech is an ordeal for anyone, but the ordeal is accentuated when it is made on an acutely controversial subject, in regard to which it is my duty to be as non-controversial as I can. For that reason, I do not propose to delve into the past and try to draw comparisons between what happened during the inter-war years and the immediate post-war years. Nor do I propose to dilate on comparisons between the number of houses produced between 1919 and 1938 and the number of houses produced since the end of the war.
I do not propose to say anything about the extent to which private builders were delivering houses in the years before the war, nor do I intend to make any suggestions at all about the relationship between the number of houses that were being produced during these periods and the particular Governments in office. Whenever these matters have been raised they have promptly given rise to controversial questions from hon. Members on either side. Therefore, I am not going to say anything about the errors or achievements of the past, but will confine my observations to the present and the future.
The real question we have to ask is whether the Government are building enough houses, but before we consider that, it is necessary to say a word or two about the problem. Housing in Scotland is the most vital of all problems we have to face. Unless decent homes are supplied for the people, everything else is in vain. It is utterly futile to produce model factories, recreational and educational facilities and even model public houses if people, when they come home in the evening, have to spend the night in overcrowded dens. If it is a question of doing without something else, and the right hon. Gentleman is so closely confined in regard to manpower and materials, I have no hesitation in saying that it is his bounden duty to see that some restrictions are put on these other things for what should be priority No. 1. That is the first fact to which I would like to refer.
620 The next is that the problem in Scotland today is infinitely more acute than it is in England. Housing is not keeping abreast of its target, and the achievements of the Government are only touching the fringe of the problem, only nibbling at it. In Edinburgh, part of which I represent, we had an allocation of some 1,600 houses last year. The waiting list for houses is more than 15,000, a clear indication of how utterly inadequate the number of allocated houses is to cope with our problem.
The third fact is that costs are rising. That is a factor in the problem of which one has to take account. It means that new houses are being erected in many cases at rents which the people for whom they are being made, cannot afford, and that existing houses are not being adequately or competently repaired. So-long as costs go on rising and no attempt is made to cope or deal with them, our housing facilities will be insufficient.
The last item in the general picture as I see it is that building workers in that portion of the industry which deals with dwelling houses are falling off in numbers instead of increasing. That gives a devastating outlook upon this major problem, and it does not seem to be a matter for complacency or for glossing over. It is not a matter about which it would be proper for a Government to say, "We are doing our best, and we do not think we can do anything more." If this is priority No. 1, and if facilities are not available to satisfy it, then those facilities will have to be obtained elsewhere.
Now let me turn to see what seems to be wrong in the situation. To my mind, the method that is being adopted by the Government to solve the problem is at fault. I have always understood that Socialism was fundamentally opposed to monopoly, which is supposed to lead to high costs and to the discouragement of people working in the monopolised industry. I firmly believe that the Government are adopting a method in housing which is breaking that very principle. It is operating a system of rigid, centralised control which is largely responsible for our troubles. We hear a great deal about democratic planning. I would like to see a great deal more democracy and a great deal less centralised planning in the administra- 621 tion of our housing affairs. Let me try to amplify that point.
In the first place, there is far too much control by the Government over the industry on the practical side. Housing is a closely integrated operation. Unless the industry can move with some idea of what is ahead it cannot possibly organise its task and carry it out efficiently. The very tight grip kept by St. Andrew's House and the Government is preventing the industry looking far enough ahead. It creates the delays and bottlenecks with which we are all familiar in practice.
To increase the rhythm of housing it is essential that there should be far more reliance upon the industry and far greater freedom from day-to-day interference from the centre. Far too little responsibility is given to the local authorities—if they are to be the machine chosen for getting housing organised and directed. If we reduce local authorities in Scotland to mere rubber stamps—this may be true elsewhere but it is undoubtedly true in Scotland—and if we insist upon so many consents by St. Andrew's House, the people who are in the local authorities feel that they are not doing a job which is worth while, we shall inevitably destroy incentive and drive.
In recent years I know that in Edinburgh, and in several other local authorities, there has been much regret at the increased amount of detailed control that St. Andrew's House has sought to exercise. The inevitable result is to discourage efficient and active people from taking part in local authority work. If they are merely to be reduced to robots to apply rubber stamps periodically, the best type of man and woman in Scotland will not try to serve upon local authorities. The needs of each locality vary. I should like to see each local authority given far more responsibility for deciding the type and location of houses. I should like to see the local authority put into the position of having to determine that matter. If the ratepayers were not satisfied with what the local authority had done they could turn them out in the following May and put in other councillors of a different colour.
Lastly, it seems to me that far too little chance is being given to the private builder under the present enormously 622 centralised control, in Edinburgh he has made a material contribution in the past to housing development and he is ready and anxious to do so now. Many contractors are willing to put up the types of houses which are being built exclusively by local authorities. Why should they not be given a chance to build them? If the resulting competition were to bring down the price of houses that would be to the advantage of everybody. Ratepayers and taxpayers would benefit.
If the private builder is not able to compete with the nationalised machine, if he cannot build as cheaply and effectively as the local authority, then the private builder will fail and the loss will fall upon him and not upon the ratepayers. Nothing will be lost by giving the private builder this chance to contribute to the solution of the housing problem. On the other hand, there may be much advantage to everybody concerned. Every house that the private builder puts up is relieving the taxpayer and the ratepayer to that extent, and in Edinburgh is helping to reduce that list of more than 15,000 people who are waiting at present, and will have to wait for years under the present system, possibly a decade, before they can get houses.
There is one final point I want to put on the question of private building. Where there is a demand, and I know there is a demand in Edinburgh, an opportunity should be given to people to own their houses. Many people want to do that. I know of people who bought land before the war, little plots on which they wanted to build houses. That land at the present moment is sterilised. The sterilisation may be slightly reduced by recent relaxations, but for all general purposes the land is still sterilised. These people are not millionaires. Usually they have put their life's savings into little plots of land in order to erect their own houses. They believe, as countless thousands believe in this country, that it is good to own your own house and to have the responsibility of looking after it. Why should those people not be given a chance? If they can get their houses built they will be making their contribution towards a solution of the housing problem. They will be taking a few more names on the waning list of over 15,000 people.
623 In England the amber light has been given to the private builder. In Scotland, where our needs are so much greater, why not give the amber light too? Why should we wait until the Secretary of State has tried it on the dog, so to speak. Why must he wait to see what happens in England? Why not try it in Scotland now? The problem of housing in Scotland demands the application of plain common sense, and when that happens we will get more houses and at a lower cost. The alternative is gradually slipping back to slumdom and overcrowding, a state which will sicken and disgust a proud and over-patient people.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Manuel (Ayrshire, Central)
I am sure all of us on both sides of the Committee are pleased with the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Clyde). I perceived in that speech a knowledge of the various facets of the housing problem and a knowledge of some of its social ills, and while I am quite sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will forgive me if I do not agree with his ultimate conclusions, I congratulate him on his maiden effort and on his fluency and knowledge of the subject. I should like on some future occasion to have an opportunity of following him and trying conclusions with him on the methods he has suggested.
I feel sure that all of us are very pleased to have this opportunity to deal with this Scottish problem of the need for houses. Before going on to one or two points which I want to make, I should like to take up one point put forward by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) in his opening speech. I agree with him as to the state of the need for repair of many of our older houses. Many of them could be adequately made to serve for a long period of years if proper repairs and improvements were carried out. He should remember, however, that the local authorities, ever since they have been housing authorities, have recognised that there should be a housing repairs account.
We have always put to that side of the ledger at least 15 per cent. of the rent income, and while that was changed in the Scotland (Financial) Provisions Act, 1946, and the sum of £4 per house per 624 financial year substituted, none the less it does not interfere with my claim that if the private landlords, for whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman is speaking, had had such a system of book-keeping and had managed to keep their houses in a good state of repair instead of taking the whole of the rent for profit, we should not be in the position we are today with so many houses in such a dilapidated condition and needing renewal.
§ Mr. Manuel
The hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head. Does he believe that all the rent should have gone on profit and the tenant should have paid an additional sum to keep his house in a proper state of repair? The alternative to that is to scrap the 1933 Rent Restriction Act and the Government could then allow rents to be increased. These houses for a long period of years were a most lucrative proposition for the people who owned them, and during those prosperous years they ought to have put away a portion of the rent for the days when the houses would be older and in need of some essential repairs.
I think the hon. Gentleman will find that the profit which was expected and worked for, was 5 per cent. on Scottish housing.
§ Mr. Manuel
That profit was much more in the early years of these houses if my information is correct. Certainly, it has come nearer that figure in latter years, but we can make a lot of money on our municipal housing and put aside 15 per cent. There is plenty of money in our housing repairs account.
I want to deal with one or two aspects of this matter which I think are topical just now. I am convinced—and I am sure that every individual who has long local authority experience will agree with me—that there is a necessity for municipal houses. I have had 15 years' experience in a burgh and county local authority, which I was actually driven into public life because of the need for municipal housing. I can recall quite vividly in my early years being a propagandist for houses up and down Ayrshire, and when I entered my local authority we were met with the opposition of the friends of the hon. and gallant Gentlemen, 625 who did not want to build municipal houses. Their conversion has -been of recent date, and only when they discovered that housing was an electioneering issue and that unless they supported it they would not be returned to the local authorities. It was in those circumstances that they supported the idea of municipal houses.
It is rather late in the day now for the Tory Party to come forward and say that they are concerned about housing the Scottish people. We had great struggles to get them to build a few paltry houses, and I am quite sure it was the same in Perth. I was born very near Perthshire.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and East Perthshire)
Then the hon. Gentleman ought to have known better.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Why did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumbarton, East (Mr. Kirk-wood), put it to the Secretary of State that Perth was ahead of any city in Scotland?
§ Mr. Manuel
I was talking about Perthshire and the rural areas. The hon. and gallant Gentleman represents parts of Perthshire.
My experience of local authorities convinces me that the main medium for the production of houses—though not the only one—is the local authority. It is time we once and for all cleared away this myth that private enterprise are not building houses, because very few of our housing authorities in Scotland employ direct labour. They engage private contractors to build the houses. In Ardrossan Burgh we have never built by direct labour. We had on occasion to drive off our housing sites private enterprise firms, who were scamping the work, and had to start direct labour for painting work, because we were getting one coat of paint instead of three.
If private enterprise contractors would face up to the job, we would not want to dispense with them. Today in Scotland they are building the greatest number of houses. I know no labour exchange in Ayrshire where there is a queue of building operatives lining up for work, as was the case in the inter-war years. Private enterprise to some extent is letting us 626 down because the houses they are building are costing too much. I agree entirely with the hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh that costs are too high. I hope private enterprise is recognising the need to bring down costs, because if they do not more direct labour departments will be started by our Scottish housing authorities.
We must get a higher production of houses at a cheaper rate because in many local areas there is difficulty in meeting current housing commitments out of current account. Housing costs, I discovered, have trebled since before the war. Recently I got a factor to survey a part of Ayrshire which is highly industrial. I discovered that wages have almost doubled whereas housing costs have trebled. In the old days when we built municipal houses we were able easily to fix the economic rent after taking into account the Government subsidy and the provision from the local rate. We cannot do that today, or where we do it, we find we are not rehousing the people who ought to be getting the houses.
There are several aspects of this subject which local authorities should consider before they think too much about increasing their rents. If we follow the old orthodox method of just fixing the economic rent we shall destroy the social purpose of municipal housing. I was amazed when the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok suggested an income test instead of a needs test. The Committee will agree that housing should be regarded as a social service. Therefore, if we applied the test which he suggested, ought we not to apply the same rule to education and say that a parent with a sufficiently high income should not be able to send his child to an elementary school? No; in Scotland we regard education as a social service for our people, and if we regard housing similarly, we shall not accept the argument for an income test. Whatever a person's income may be, if he has real need of a home he can get it from the local authority on that need irrespective of financial considerations.
I hope that the high building costs will not lead us to a position where we shall have to allocate houses merely for those who can afford them. We must devise ways and means so that, on a needs basis, people in unfit, overcrowded, and sublet dwellings can get absolute priority. 627 Until the Labour Government came into power we had no right to re-house subtenants in new houses. In order to evade the provisions of the legislation which then existed, we had to move someone out of an old municipal house and put the sub-tenant there. Now we have the right to put a sub-tenant into a new house.
§ Mr. Carmichael
That information is new to me. My hon. Friend indicates that the local authority has the right to put a sub-tenant into a corporation house. Does he suggest that the local authority has the power to put both the tenant and the sub-tenant into a new house if the house they occupy is condemned or demolished?
§ Mr. Manuel
Certainly. There is provision about sub-tenants for the first time under the legislation which this Government introduced.
One small borough in Ayrshire has fixed the following economic rents having regard to the latest building cost: three apartment, £40; four apartment, £50; five apartment, £56, exclusive of rates. In the main the people of that area are earning £5 to £5 10s. a week and they cannot afford to pay those rents. I have the figures relating to 20 houses in my borough which were recently allocated to people on a needs basis. Four of those people had an income of less than £2 a week, two had an income of less than £3 week, two had an income of between £4 and £5 a week, 11 had an income of between £5 and £6 a week, and one had an income of a few coppers over £7 a week. We cannot approve of local authorities just fixing an economic rent if they are to remedy the needs position in their areas. I want to suggest one or two things which we could do to improve this position. Local authorities ought to recognise—I hope I may be allowed five minutes to round off my argument.
§ Mr. Manuel
I am getting support from the other side of the Committee. I should like to say this, because the local Tories are usually against me but I have convinced many of them. There has 628 never been a full consideration of the increased valuation of local authority areas through municipal housing. Usually we are demolishing houses at about half the rental of the ones we are erecting, and we are creating an entirely new rating unit, and increasing the product of the rate. I know of numerous housing developments where not an extra street lamp has been provided but the people are paying the lighting rate, and where no extra dustmen have been provided but the people are paying the cleansing rate.
We should not automatically take it that the cost of new houses falls on the ratepayers in the older houses. I have investigated this, and I have discovered that if there was no municipal housing in any of the burghs which I have examined, the rates would toe higher if they were still to provide the social services which they do now. The product of their rate would be so much reduced without municipal housing that they could not provide those social services. Due regard ought to be paid to that and we ought not to discourage municipal housing by telling the people in the older houses that they are subsidising those in the newer houses, for that is not true.
The Government ought to inquire into the amount of money which is being paid every year from local rates in high interest charges on loans for houses built after the first world war. Ardrossan is paying interest charges of 6½ per cent. down to 2½ per cent. Five or six are at 6½ per cent., and five at 5 per cent. If these could be levelled at 3 per cent. the ultimate saving to Ardrossan would be over £32,000. I hope the Government can look at that problem and give some relief from these high interest rates to which Tory Governments in the years between the wars gave their accord.
Do not forget that we provided more houses in the last four and a half years than were provided in a similar period between the wars. Ayr County Council has provided more in the last four and a half years in its landward areas than were provided in the 17½ years after the First World War, beating that number by nearly 1,000. We have already built more in Ayrshire than were built up to 1936. I hope we shall recognise that as late as 1931 and 1933 Tory controlled councils had to have petitions lodged by 629 ratepayers in order to get them to build houses for their people. The Burgh of Ayr was one. The Burgh of Irvine was another where a public inquiry was held and the local authority was ordered to build houses for its people.
Those are the reasons why we feel it is cant and hypocrisy for the Tory Party to come along now when they encouraged their friends not to build houses and say, "Let us forget about the past." I say, let us try to get a bigger output and more of our people housed in the immediate future.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I am sure that every hon. Member who speaks in this Committee will emphasise the crying need for houses in Scotland. Of that absolutely over-riding demand there can be no doubt—the ordinary demand of a man and his family for somewhere to live at a reasonable rent, with water and the ordinary amenities of life. This lack of homes is the greatest social disaster we face today. It leads to ill health and unhappiness and anxiety of every sort. It means that families are split up, that marriages are threatened, and that people are forced to live in condemned camps and other places not fit for human habitation.
As the hon. Member for Ayrshire, Central (Mr. Manuel) said, we are all bound to look to the future and see what suggestions we can offer for solving this problem. I am afraid that I have no magic wand which will give us at once the ideal homes we all want. I agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh North (Mr. Clyde) when he drew attention to the fact that we start with a heavy handicap in Scotland because our housing conditions have always been much worse. I do not want to look back at why that was—whether it was the fault of the present Government, of the Tory Government, or of the last Liberal Government—if any one can remember when that was. I realise that England suffered more heavily from bombing, but it is a fact that we are not getting the full proportion of homes which we should get by comparison with our population.
We must also admit that there have been great difficulties. We were glad to hear from the Secretary of State that many shortages have been overcome to some extent. On that point, is there no 630 longer any shortage of cement? I ask that, because there has been difficulty in getting it in parts of Scotland. Apart from shortages, of course, we have had the dislocation consequent upon the war. The size of the problem and the difficulties, however, make one wonder whether we should not have in Scotland a Minister, or at least an Under-Secretary, whose sole business it would be to deal with housing. The Secretary of State and his assistants are over-worked people dealing with a variety of subjects—they even have to deal with whales which are continually being washed up in my constituency. This overriding problem of housing needs the day-to-day attention of one man.
My general criticism of the policy of the Government is that it seems to have been rather inflexible. With regard to licences for private building, the Government seem to have in mind that the ordinary person who wants a licence is a luxury builder. In some parts of Scotland the people who want licences are not the rich but the poorer people who cannot pay the rents of some of the houses provided by local authorities The Government, quite rightly, have encouraged the building of factory-made houses, but some of these have been erected in places for which they are unsuitable.
Again, absolutely rightly, they have laid down high standards for housing but they have not allowed sufficient latitude for variation in those standards according to the climate, the traditions and the needs of various localities. It may be difficult to do that, but it is possible. As a result, in my own constituency we have had some factory-made houses put up—some, I say—which are quite unsuitable to our climate. The invigorating gales which occasionally sweep over Orkney and Shetland give these houses a bad time, and a considerable amount of money has had to be spent in altering them to stand up to local conditions.
Again, some of these houses were designed to be run on electricity or coal, and in some places in Scotland the ordinary fuel is peat. That has meant that calor gas has had to be put in and this has added very much to the running expenses. I do not want to be misunderstood about this. I am not complaining about factory houses in general because I am sure that for cities they are right and that some 631 types are excellent. I am only saying that in some places factory houses have not been the ideal solution and they could have been improved. However, we welcome them if the alternative is nothing. We would much rather have them than no houses. Then again, we have wanted various types of houses for different sorts of people such as the old single man and woman or the couple who need a small house.
The hon. Member for Ayrshire, Central drew attention to the serious problem of the high rents which must be charged nowadays. There is no doubt that they are now reaching a stage at which either they are a heavy burden on the community or they cannot be paid by the tenants. Another problem which has been mentioned is that of tied houses. Whatever may be said on this question in England, where the villages are fairly close together, in Scotland we must have tied houses, at least in the Highlands and Islands. If not, we shall not get our labour to work the land and food production is bound to suffer. I quite see the objections, but they are overruled by the fact that there is no other means of guaranteeing labour on the land and giving it a decent place in which to live.
I understand that there is to be more generosity on the part of the Scottish Office over licences. I welcome that and I hope they will be as generous as their kind hearts will allow them. By those means, in some parts at any rate, we shall get the type of house we want at a cost we can pay. I am also glad to hear that more discretion is being allowed to local authorities over the types of houses they are to put up. There again, I hope the Scottish Office will not hold back their good intentions. Perhaps we shall bear more about that at the end of the Debate.
Some contribution to the housing problem can be made by the use of local materials, particularly stone. In Orkney, for instance, we can build stone houses nearly as cheaply as we can put up factory-made houses, and I am told that there are a certain number of masons. I am not suggesting that the whole building programme can be carried out in stone, and I am not suggesting that there are large quantities of masons unemployed in Okney or anywhere else, but I should like to know if the Government are pro- 632 Ceding with building in stone and making the best use of it they can. Stonemasonry is a very old-established craft in Scotland and of late it has fallen on rather pitiful days. I think that a word might be said for the much abused Hydro-Electric Board, who in some places have made a real attempt to encourage stonemasonry.
Apart from new housing, I attach the greatest importance to the need for the repair and improvement or replacement of old houses, and I want to refer particularly to the crofting counties. In this connection I urge the Government to revise some of their regulations. A crofter or a cotter nowadays may get certain grants by way of loan, but before he sees any of the money he has to scramble his way through a whole lot of documents. These may be easily understood by lawyers or civil servants or even by politicians, but they are a considerable strain on the ordinary crofter, who is often working a 12 or 14-hour day.
He has also to surmount the difficulties of the Town and Country Planning Act, and the more paths which are cut through that jungle, the better we shall all be pleased. Personally, I think there is nothing to be done with that Act but to amend it root and branch as far as the rural areas are concerned. It is not in the least suitable to the rural areas or to the Highlands or Islands. Then the crofter finds that he may be liable to a development charge, which may well frighten him. Even if he is eligible for a grant he finds that be cannot get it until his house is completed.
Crofters and cotters are sometimes people in poor circumstances and without capital, and they would often be very glad of some money on account while They are actually at work in improving their homes. Even if a crofter obtains a loan, he finds that there may be penalty clauses attached. If he falls two instalments behind on repayments, the whole loan becomes due and is payable. Work and income are very uncertain in the crofting counties and a man, through no fault of his own may have difficulty in keeping up his payments. I do not know how these provisions are actually administered but I know that they can operate harshly. I welcome the Housing (Scotland) Act as far as it goes, and I am sure that 633 the grants for which provision is made are, as far as they go, very acceptable. They do not, however, go very far in these days.
§ Mr. Grimond
I can assure the Committee that these people need all the money which they can get.
There is one point which is of considerable importance. In some parts of the Highlands a very notable contribution has been made to housing by surrounding wooden huts with concrete blocks which provides a reasonable form of housing that will last certainly for more than 30 years. I hope, therefore, that there is no suggestion that this method of building is not to be eligible for a grant.
One final point, quite apart from the Highlands and Islands. I quite agree that not only the first and second, but all priorities, must be given to getting homes for the people, and that nothing should be allowed to stand in the way. I think, however, there is a certain amount to be said for paying rather more attention than is paid now to beauty in the layout and design of new housing estates. Trees are still being cut down, but very few are being planted. We complain bitterly of the taste of the 19th century, but I am not at all sure that future generations will not think that it was as good as that of today. Blocks of grey and khaki houses are erected, and they seem very often to be laid out without very much thought. As the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) will know, there are some excellent local traditions in housing in Scotland. In his part of the country there is the very pleasant tradition of washing the houses in nice, bright colours and then picking out the doors and windows in contrasting colours. I do not believe that this would add to the cost of new houses, but it would add greatly to the happiness and brightness of some parts of Scotland.
Then there is the question of street furniture. I am not a great admirer of telephone boxes, but I think still less of the new lighting standards. Why can we not have a competition for architects, craftsmen and draughtsmen in an attempt to find some fresh designs for these things 634 and so add a little light and colour to our housing schemes? Let us have fountains and statues—statues of Members of Parliament in their constituencies——
§ Mr. Grimond
Yes, the Lord Advocate. The Saltire Society conferred a great benefit on Scotland, when it presented a plaque for the best local authority housing design. I think that the Department for Health deserve some credit for the response which they made to this. Let us have another plaque for the best layout. And is it now impossible to build big squares with trees and terraces of houses? It may be very difficult to design the interior of a terrace house, and there may be difficulties over open space. But squares and terraces were great features of the past in Scottish building—in the New Town of Edinburgh, for instance. It would be a tragedy if they were to disappear for ever. This may be a necessity, but I still think that it would be a tragedy.
I appreciate the remarks of the Secretary of State that we must have the amenities which go with housing estates, and in this connection I make a last plea for more concessions for village halls. They would not require the allocation of very much material but they are certainly of immense benefit to people who are far away from roads and cinemas.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
The last time I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair was when we were discussing housing during the Debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, who I am sorry to see is not now present, and I had a private debate between ourselves on housing in Scotland, during which a great deal of heat, but not quite so much light, was generated. I hope that in the calmer atmosphere which prevails this afternoon any points which are raised—and I particularly want to raise two points—will be replied to by whoever replies on behalf of the Government.
The first matter to which I want to draw attention is the relation between building in England and in Scotland. As, 635 however, the last thing that I want to do is to foster any feeling of enmity, rivalry or jealousy between the two countries, I propose to refer to conditions in the northern and southern parts of the United Kingdom. Scotland and England are parts of the same Kingdom, and this cannot be emphasised too often, particularly at present. Although our two countries form one Kingdom, the conditions in these two parts of the Kingdom are entirely different. In the north, housing is not really as good or as adequate as in the south; and I do not think that there are any doubts about this on either side of the Committee. I do not propose, therefore, to waste time in relating facts to support what I am about to say.
Although conditions in the north are worse than those in the south, the Government are dealing with matters as if they were exactly the same. The ratio of houses built in the north is approximately one in the north to 8½ in the south.
§ Mr. Galbraith
We had this argument last time, and I thought that the hon. Gentleman agreed with me. If he will look at page 3 of the housing figures issued by his own Department, he will find, unless my mathematics are hopelessly wrong, that the ratio is one to approximately 8.5. That is what one would expect if the houses were being allocated on a population basis.
When the Under-Secretary interrupted me on the last occasion, he pointed out that in 1949 the ratio had improved, as far as the north was concerned, to one in the north as against six in the south, but he did not point out that in the year before—in 1948—it had fallen to as low as one in 10. The improvement of last year, therefore, was only catching up the lost ground. This is borne out by what has been happening in the first quarter of this year, when the ratio has fallen back to one in the north as against 7½ in the south. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman works that out, I think he will find that the figures are approximately right——
§ Mr. Galbraith
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman works them out, he will find that they are approximately one in the north to seven and a half in the south. I agree that this is a great improvement over what has been happening during the last five years——
§ Mr. Galbraith
If the hon. Member will not interrupt, I will make my argument in my own way. This, I say, is an improvement on what it was in the last five years. It is more than the north was entitled to on the basis of population, but I submit to the Committee that it is not more than the north is entitled to on the basis of need, and I should have thought this question of need was one that would make an instant appeal to hon. Members opposite. It is hon. Members opposite who are forever preachingFrom each according to his ability; to each according to his need.They apply that doctrine to individuals. They tax the rich man in order to help the poor and needy and I simply do not see why, if this argument is applicable to individuals, it should not equally apply to different districts within the same United Kingdom.
The south is, relatively speaking, well-off with regard to housing. Why should it not do with proportionately fewer houses, so that conditions in the north may be brought up to the level of conditions which at present exist in the south? I should have imagined that this argument of taking away from or limiting the rich in order to help the poor—which is the north on this occasion—would have appealed to hon. Members opposite. They are always talking about fair shares. I am getting rather sick of hearing those empty words, "Fair shares for all" and would like to see them implemented in this matter of housing. I want to know whether Socialists—and I am talking of Socialists particularly from the southern part of the Kingdom, although I do not know whether there are many here at the moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]—I want to know whether they are really Socialists and whether they are prepared to make sacrifices for the good of others.
It is one thing to be a Socialist when it means pulling someone down to your own level, but a very different thing to be 637 a Socialist when it means doing without something to help someone else; and that is what is required of the Socialists of the southern part of the United Kingdom. They ought to do with less, in order that the northern part may have more.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
As an hon. Member representing a southern constituency, I accept at once the hon. Member's principle of equality, but I ask him whether he would apply that within Scotland and whether within Scotland he will be prepared to distribute houses according to need and not according to wealth?
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. Member is apparently unaware of what is happening in the northern part of the Kingdom because houses are allocated according to need. I hope that this point will be dealt with because I do not think hon. Members opposite are in a strong position when they talk about fair shares and deny them to the northern part of the United Kingdom in respect of houses.
I wish to turn to something which has nothing to do with building houses, but which has a great deal to do with housing. That is preserving the houses which have already been put up. There has been some progress in building houses, but there has been none at all in the matter of preserving them. In fact there has been a steady increase in the deterioration of existing houses. This is a matter to which, as a Conservative, naturally I attach perhaps more importance than hon. Members opposite, who are busily engaged in squandering the wealth which has been handed down to them—[Laughter.] Hon. Members have a most extraordinary sense of humour. On the last occasion there was uproar from hon. Members opposite when I described the dreadful conditions of the man whose wife left him because he could not find a house. Here again, on the same kind of thing, when I talk of what we have inherited from the past not being kept in a proper state of preservation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I am afraid I cannot see it. They cannot be aware of what is happening.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Surely that was applicable long before Labour came into power and was the result of misgovernment on the part of 638 Tories and Liberals for generations in the past.
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. and learned Gentleman is like so many Members of his party. Although they say they are facing the future, they do so with a mirror in front of them, a distorting mirror, and what they see in the mirror has no relation to the facts at all.
I want to go on with the problem of decay, which I should have thought was obvious to anyone walking through a large city like Glasgow. The reason for this decay is simply lack of money. A tenement which in 1939 was just able to pay its way to its owner, today, if properly kept in repair—and that is a big if—would show a loss of £62 a year, which is very much more than most owners of property can afford to pay. In view of this situation I think it might interest the Committee if I gave some figures which will show what is happening in Glasgow. Owners of 21,000 houses in Glasgow have been able to keep those houses in a proper state of repair and it has cost them, in the half year ending Whitsun, 1949, £40,000. The owners of another 170,000 houses available for letting in Glasgow have not been able to do this and they have only been able to keep themselves solvent and avoid loss by cutting down on the necessary repairs.
I do not want the Committee to think that in this matter I am pleading the case of the landlords. I am not doing that at all, although I think the landlords have been treated most shabbily, particularly as a great many of them are people of very moderate means. What does perturb me is, first, the plight of the people living in those houses, who are having to pay the full rates and taxes and are helping to subsidise other people going into council houses and getting no benefit themselves. I do not think that is right and I do not think it is fair.
The second thing which is worrying me is the impossible task which will face us if, in addition to having to house the homeless and overcrowded, we have also to provide replacements for such a tremendous number of existing houses which are now falling into disrepair. It will be like trying to go up an escalator which is moving downwards. One tries very hard, but one does not make much headway. I do not think hon. Members opposite have ever tried to do that.
§ Mr. Galbraith
No, it is the wrong road which the hon. Member wants to go. During the last year Glasgow Corporation has had to rehouse 718 families from dilapidated houses and I am afraid this process will get worse and worse as the years pass, unless something is done, and done now, to stop it.
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. Gentleman asks "Such as?" This is another curious feature of the Government which I do not understand. Some suggestions have been made by his right hon. Friend, such as dealing with rent and rates and that something might be done with regard to Schedule A and through the 1949 Act. His own mind is full of suggestions. It is up to the Government to do something. The problem is there, they are the Government; they must do something. I hope that when the hon. Gentleman replies he will have something constructive to offer to deal with this problem.
§ Mr. Fraser
Do the hon. Gentleman and his hon. and right hon. Friends go before the electors in the various constituencies in Glasgow and throughout Scotland, point to problems which exist, and say "It is not for us to offer any remedy, it is for the Labour Government to do so"? Have they not some responsibility to tell the people of Scotland how they would deal with the problem if they were in power? That is all we ask.
§ Mr. Galbraith
Yes, that is a perefectly proper question to put at the time of the election. I was asked that question two or three times and I gave an honest answer. I said that the money had to be found somewhere and indicated various ways in which it might be found. I do not see that it is for me in this House to tell the Government what they ought to do. When we try to tell them what they ought to do in respect of nationalisation, for example, they pay no attention whatever. It is the duty of the Government to govern, and if they do not know how to govern they had better get out.
I have not so far touched on the matter of the allocation of houses, the topic which created all the trouble between the right hon. Gentleman and myself on the last occasion we spoke upon 640 it. As he said this afternoon, in a very friendly manner, the difference between us was really one of nomenclature, but he did at that time say that I was distressingly ignorant of the problem. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman has had second thoughts on that matter, and that so far as Edinburgh is concerned he has taken my advice to allocate further ahead and not just from hand to mouth, as he had been doing. He has told us this afternoon that he intends extending that concession to the whole country. We are very glad that the right hon. Gentleman does have second thoughts; they are often much better than his first thoughts.
§ Mr. Galbraith
He will have to go even further than he has gone because I do not believe that it will be possible to get a smooth and efficient production of houses unless he is willing to have very much more faith in the local authorities than he appears to have.
The right hon. Gentleman has tried one system of what I believe is an over-centralised method of building houses, and it has not worked properly. He must be bold and prepared to take risks. Let him give more scope to the local authorities, and let him try an experiment in certain districts of using private enterprise, not private enterprise working as the nominee of the local authority but working on its own in selected districts, and so have some standard by which to judge the local authorities.
Would the hon. Member explain in what way private enterprise is inhibited or impeded when it is employed by the local authority?
§ Mr. Galbraith
That is the whole problem about which I have been complaining. It is bad enough for the local authorities to be controlled by the right hon. Gentleman's Department, but they are both in a kind of way bureaucratic, and when an industrial concern such as building is hamstrung by the controls and specifications of local authorities we do not get efficiency. That happened after the First World War. It was only when real competition was introduced and encouraged that houses were produced more quickly and at a lower cost.
641 I believe that this problem of housing is so serious that we must take these risks. We must try something new. We cannot afford to go on in the way in which we have been proceeding during the last five years. We should employ every means we can, including these experiments—I ask for nothing more—in real private enterprise building over a large area, because the real basis of the welfare State is to have a home for everyone. We are very far from having that basis today.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Pryde (Midlothian and Peebles)
We are indebted to the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) for the comprehensive way in which he drew the attention of the House to the problem under discussion today. It struck me as very strange that he had neglected to address himself to his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) when he was Secretary of State for Scotland. It might have saved a good deal of trouble if at that time the party now in opposition had devoted themselves a little more studiously and conscientiously to the problem. The hon. and gallant Gentleman told us, by means of an array of figures, that they had built a great number of houses. I know that the Leader of the Opposition also is prone to a little historical review, and I intend in the short time at my disposal to try to peer into the future by the torchlight of the past.
I have here the figures of the houses built in Scotland under the various Acts between the two world wars. They can be found in HANSARD of 17th June, 1947, and were given to the House by the former Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr. George Buchanan. He said that under the various Acts there had been built in Scotland by all Governments 227,347 houses by local authorities and 92,000 by private enterprise, giving a total of 319,347 houses in 20 years, or slightly under 16,000 per year.
During the recent General Election we heard much being said, particularly over the radio, about the 1,000 houses per day built by the Conservative Party. They were not built in Scotland. According to the figures submitted to the House, under 16,000 per year were built in Scotland, most of them under two Acts passed by minority Labour Governments. For instance, 642 under the 1919 Act local authorities could levy a rate of only a fraction of 1d. in order to provide "homes for heroes." That was the brief which the then Dr. Addison, now Lord Addison, received from the Coalition Government—that he was to build "homes for heroes." When he told his masters that it required two million houses to provide homes for heroes, he was sacked on the spot.
We in Scotland built 25,129 houses under the Addison Act. In the burgh where I live, we built, under a Tory administration, 24 houses. I went to see the first of them being occupied. A band of men had gathered round the door with a piano. I said to the English foreman, "What is the matter?" He replied "They cannot get this piano into the house." I said "What is the good of wasting time. You will have to do one of two things, either saw up the piano to fit the house or saw up the house to fit the piano." One of the labourers leaned against one of the internal walls, and the house collapsed. Those houses had cement floors in the sculleries. They cost more than houses today.
I suggest that when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are comparing the houses built between the two World Wars, and the houses built in Scotland today, they should take into consideration the amount of accommodation being provided as between the two periods. We are building far better houses today. We are building four-, five- and six-apartment houses where the Tories built two- and three-apartment houses; yes, and single tenements. It is true to say, as the hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) has so aptly demonstrated, that the day of private enterprise in regard to house building has gone. It never could tackle the problem. In the City of Glasgow dozens of owners of property are making application to the council to take over their decrepit property, and it is the same in the City of Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Pryde
We require a new outlook on housing and it is on the rural counties that we must focus the attention of this House. In counties such as Peebles, where we have a diminishing population, it is perfectly obvious that, unless special measures are taken, in a few years' time Scottish local government will be presented with an economic problem. In counties such as Peebles where, under Part II of the Act of 1929, industry and agriculture are derated to the extent of 75 per cent. on the one hand and 87½ per cent. on the other, the agricultural labourer and the weaver in the weaving shed have to pay the bulk of the tax. It is the highest rateable value per head of any county in Scotland.
There have been some very complex aspects of the problem described today. There are very many more which must come under our purview if we are to deal with the problem as it affects Scotland. According to reports, it is true to say that accommodation for over 110,000 families has been provided in Scotland inside five years. The Labour Government were not a week at Westminster after the 1945 election before the Sunday newspapers in Scotland contained flaring headlines, "Scotland requires 500,000 houses." The late Joseph Westwood, then Secretary of State for Scotland, added fuel to the fire, because he said, "Yes it is a statement of fact, and there are 400,000 houses in Scotland which have no sanitary convenience of any description." I have some of them in my own constituency. No wonder hon. Gentlemen opposite are anxious to dress the window for the next General Election, but I am afraid they will not do it with Scottish housing.
They are again striking the note of the age-old Tory policy. They are pleading for private enterprise to build houses for sale. Is not that the policy of the class versus the mass? We have to sacrifice the mass in the interests of the class. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok complained very bitterly about tied houses being built for miners. There the hon. and gallant Gentleman erred, because the 644 houses built by the S.S.H.A. in Scotland are under the Rent Restriction Acts. The local authorities did not provide tied houses for miners. The occupants of those houses are on a week's notice the same as the occupants of houses anywhere else.
I believe that private enterprise contractors can build houses quicker because I have seen them doing it in front of my own window. The S.S.H.A. was employed to build houses for the National Coal Board and they built four houses in 16 weeks, ready for occupation. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Robertson), when he was Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, had a block of houses built by Messrs. Cruden of Musselburgh in the Penicuik area for the National Coal Board; and Messrs. Whatlings and Messrs. Cruden have built 230 houses at a speed unprecedented in the history of Scotland.
I examined them at the week-end and there I saw modern methods being employed. No longer does the labourer carry a hod on his shoulder and climb up a ladder like a fly. There are escalators for taking bricks up to the second storey and mobile cranes for lifting cement and other building materials. By these means it is possible to build houses quickly and cheaply. But I would suggest to the Scottish Office that they should appoint progress officers, because it would pay them to do so.
They should see to it that the penalty clause is operated, and reserve to themselves the right to see that local authorities will not always be compelled to operate the lowest tender. What we have found in Scotland, especially since 1945, has been that small inadequate firms have gone in for more work than they were able to accomplish. The result has been that they have been unable to carry it out. There we have an argument in favour of a firm which is able to do the job, and I am sure that the Scottish Office should exercise its discretion in this respect and see that all building labour is mobilised for the purposes of providing houses for the people. No longer is it a question of building houses for the working-class, but for all.
I think that in this respect we should consider the labour force in Scotland since 1945. According to the Quarterly 645 Returns, George Buchanan took over responsibility for 23,500 building operatives and today there are something like 50,000 building operatives who are at work in Scotland. It is not true to say that the Tories had fewer men between the two world wars. In a recent letter the Minister of Labour informed me that for the first year after the end of the First World War for which figures were available, 1921, there were 63,000 building operatives at work in Scotland. It will be seen then that the present Government have nothing to their discredit in regard to housing. All that they require now is a little support from the Opposition to see to it that the problem is tackled in a scientific manner, a manner in which it has never been tackled before.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
Much as I should like to, I do not propose to make any comments on any of the speeches made this afternoon, because time is passing and there are many hon. Members who want to speak. I will try to put the few remarks I wish to make quickly, in the hope that they will be helpful. I cannot, however, refrain from congratulating the two opening speakers in this Debate on their quite remarkable staying power.
I find it very difficult, as I always do, to attack the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland on any subject. The feeling originated when, some years ago, he was collaborating most successfully with his Tory colleague Lord Beaverbrook on the "Daily Express" and one day in his column he wrote about me and said that I had made the best speech delivered in the Housing Debate of that year. Naturally. I have had a very warm spot in my heart for him ever since. Then, of course, I watched his career at the Foreign Office, continuing that sound Tory philosophy which he had imbibed from Lord Beaverbrook. Therefore, whatever criticism I may offer, I should explain that it will not be so much against his account as against the misdeeds of his predecessors. I will encourage him, if I can, to pursue the "Right Road for Britain" since, as we all know, Scotland is still a part of Britain.
The Government have done many things which are difficult to understand, 646 but to me, at any rate, the most baffling is their attitude towards housing. I will not harass hon. Members by recalling those carefree promises which they made in 1945 with such ample plenitude, although I have for ready reference a useful brochure thoughtfully compiled by the Conservative Central Office which gives all the promises they made. If any of them want to find out exactly what they were committed to by their colleagues, I assure them that it is all in this brochure.
We cannot, however, forget those posters which were plastered all over the countryside, "Vote Labour. Labour will get you that house." What nonsense it all makes now. It only drives home to one's mind how pitiful their performances have been compared with the lavishness of their promises. One wonders just why all this is, because I do not believe that the Government party are essentially inhumane or inhuman. I believe that they want to get houses for the people, that they want to get good houses, healthy houses, happy homes for the people; but they do not seem to be able to find the right way to do that.
Their minds are closed to any avenues that have not previously been governed by party dogma. If we read the history of 200 years ago, we wonder how the public conscience tolerated the exploitation of women in workshops and factories, the baiting of bears, and all those unpleasant things. If we look back even 100 years, we wonder how the public conscience tolerated the working of children in the pits. If we could put forward our minds to 100 years hence, we would find that posterity of that day will wonder, and will be horrified, at the fact that we of this generation tolerated slums, tuberculosis and all the diseases that follow from slums.
I believe that "housing" will be the "Calais" found written on the corpse of this wretched Government. The historian will find no heart on which it could be traced—and that is an even worse accusation than the other. I have been informed by competent architects and experienced builders that there is really no shortage now of the necessary raw materials, the bricks and the timber. I am told that even if there is a temporary shortage in this country which, as the right hon. 647 Gentleman explained is only temporary, the materials could be got from non-dollar sources. If that is true, and I believe that it is, there is no question of relying on the excuse about shortage of material. Then I come to labour. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that the labour force was fully employed. How often has he advanced that excuse?
§ Sir T. Moore
I cannot speak so much for the Scottish building operatives, because I have never actually seen them at work, but I have watched English operatives from my bedroom window, and they look more like a frieze in still life. I do not believe that they get the incentives to make them work as hard as necessary, nor do they get the food. I sometimes see these chaps with their sandwiches—miserable sandwiches at that, but it is all the Ministry of Food will allow them.
We know that there are something like eight million dispossessed people in Europe. Are none of them builders? Or are the trade union restrictive practices preventing them from being brought over here and tried out? There must be some means of building the houses required. It is for the right hon. Gentleman, and not for us, to find a way. Even if we spent £10 million in the dollar areas, even if we spent £20 million or £100 million, and then did without some of the unnecessary luxuries that we import today, what a wealth of human happiness we should receive as a reward for our people.
I am convinced that this or any other Government which is determined and which succeeds in providing our people with happy, healthy and cheap houses will be impregnable. I think that they could forget, certainly for the time being, reductions in Income Tax, the payment of Post-war Credits, or reductions in Purchase Tax. That one achievement alone would ensure the life of any Government for as long as they cared to prolong it. This Government have failed, and failed pretty miserably.
In the few further minutes which I have allocated to myself, I want to deal with three final points. One is the number of houses needed. The second is the quality of those houses. The third 648 is the accommodation which is now passing under the name of "houses." When dealing with this topic, it is sometimes most difficult not to harrow the feelings of the House with individual cases of hardship, discomfort and misery. One could speak of the marriages that have been broken up because young couples have had to live with "in-laws" or have been separated. A case came before me only last week of a young man from the Services with his gratuity, or with some savings probably accumulated before the war—of course, one cannot save now—gaily hoping to build a little home for himself and his young wife. Instead, people like this find themselves enmeshed in red tape and frustrated by political dogma.
I always feel inclined to call the Secretary of State my right hon. Friend. I find it a very easy term to apply to him. I hope that he will deserve it.
§ Sir T. Moore
If the right hon. Gentleman's political reputation rests on such slender foundations, believe me, he is not long for his high office. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman, although I do not think that he is entirely guiltless because he is a member of the Government—the spineless Government that allows the arch-criminal, the Minister of Health, arrogantly to dictate the needs of our people. I believe that if the right hon. Gentleman had the courage to resign his high office rather than be the puppet of the decisions of the Minister of Health, as most Secretaries of State have been in the past, he would not only ensure for himself an honoured name in Scotland, but he would prevent masses of loyal law-abiding Scotsmen being driven to thoughts of self-government or even complete separation from England.
I am not going to cover the ground covered by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Gal-braith), who dealt with the figures for the whole country, but, as one constituency is very much like another in that all suffer from the same troubles and from the same advantages, I shall deal only with the figures of my own constituency. In 1945, when this brave new world burst upon 649 us, there were 2,000 families on the waiting list in Ayr. Today, five years later, there are 2,800. They cannot even keep pace with the problem, let alone move forward. Take the case of the charming village of Monkton in Ayrshire. There has been no house built there since before the war.
When we ask the Secretary of State what he is doing about it, as I often have done myself, he makes a daily answer which has now become stereotyped—so much so that the right hon. Gentleman does not have to look it up, but just repeats what he said the day before. There have been so many houses allocated, there are so many under construction—a term of ill-omen—and so many tenders approved. I must say that that is very poor consolation to the people who are eager and ready and able to pay for the houses to which they are entitled. I suspect that the phrase "under construction" is used to cover up the lack of development in Government policy. How many of us have seen houses standing for years eaves-high or lintel-high and perishing because of the failure of Government administration or, at least, the incompetence of its administration?
The other day, the right hon. Gentleman gave an answer which was supposed to be most precise, definite, encouraging and comforting. He said that 146 houses were under construction, and that 176 had been built by the Scottish Special Housing Association, of which I was well aware, and he went on to follow this up with a few more details. But these are mere flea-bites in dealing with this massive problem of housing in Scotland, and that is the point which the right hon. Gentleman does not appear to realise. He seems to think that if he can say that half-a-dozen houses have been built somewhere, that is quite good enough to satisfy Scotland.
There is one more point, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) concerning the exteriors of houses. We are apparently compelled to have all sorts of gadgets and labour-saving devices inside the houses, while the more important issue of a pleasant exterior is evaded. A man wants a house with a pleasant appearance of which he can be proud. Let us take the case of the Orlit houses, with their square exteriors and an appear- 650 ance like a Borstal institution, while inside the water is pouring down the walls, the wind whistling through badly-fitting windows, the blankets damp and mattresses sodden. When the question is put to the right hon. Gentleman, what does he say? He says it is due to the local contractor——
§ Sir T. Moore
—and that answer applies also to the Orlit houses in Lanarkshire, and in Peterhead, too, apparently. No, this excuse of the failure of the local contractor sounds rather "phoney" to me.
I come now to my final point, which concerns the disused Army huts which are still regarded by this Government as houses. How can we expect a happy and healthy community to live in these squalid huts? I have been into many of them, as no doubt other hon. Members have, and I have seen the squalor in which the families have to live. There must be some way of avoiding this sort of thing, if only the minds of Members of the Government were bent upon this problem, putting aside everything else and concentrating all their energies on this one task. It is a challenge to their humanity, it is a challenge to their capacity, and a challenge to their very existence as a Government; and the next General Election will prove it. It is a challenge which they cannot evade, and one which the right hon. Gentleman himself must meet. If he does succeed in it, he will, as I have said, win an honoured name in Scotland. If he fails, he will have to go the way of his predecessor and make way for a better man and a better Government.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) in very great detail, unless it be to comment upon the lack of houses for newly-married couples. This problem seems to worry everyone, and I agree that many complications occur because of the lack of accommodation. I am, however, exceedingly surprised that hon. Members opposite should show this death-bed repentance on this aspect of housing.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) was a member of the Glasgow Housing Committee, and I happened to be chairman 651 at the time, when the Government which he supported and of which he was a spokesman, withdrew the only Act that remained on the Statute Book under which we could possibly build houses for newly-married couples. All through the years from 1934 to 1939 there was no Act under which any local authority in the whole of Scotland could build for newly-married couples. Verily, the problem that we as a Labour Government had to face was not a war problem or even a problem of our own regime, but a problem created by the Opposition for us during those years before the war.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok was a member of that housing committee at the time of which I speak, and yet he deplores the situation which left us with only the slum clearance Act on the Statute Book. He urged that I, as convenor, should go to interview Sir Godfrey Collins and demand that we should be given permission to build houses for the newly-married. I did go and I came back with the reply that we should concentrate on slum clearance and overcrowding, and that, when the overcrowded were removed from their small houses, those small houses so vacated would become available for the newly-married couples. There have been protests from housing and town planning authorities every year from 1933 to 1939.
We ought to remind hon. Members opposite of the failure of their Government to provide for the newly-married couples, whose children are now almost about to be married. They have been waiting for homes since the withdrawal of the only Act of Parliament that allowed us to build for newly-married couples. I am rather surprised at the introduction into this Debate of the position of tenants in old houses. I came to the Debate fortified with the reports of several commissions, and it is true that these old houses are causing us some concern. What is the remedy? Have hon. Members opposite given us any remedy? We have on a few occasions tried unsuccessfully to trap them into giving us an indication of what they intended to do, but I think that today I have succeeded in baiting the trap rather well.
I think that the document that I have in my possession from the Conservative 652 Association reveals what the Opposition intend to do. They intend to raise rents. During the election, a property-owner friend of mine asked an hon. Member who is sitting on the benches opposite, what he intended to do for the property owner. He refused to give a reply in public, but he took the name and address and sent on to my friend the policy of his party in regard to property owners. It said local authorities had been allowed to raise the rents of local authority houses, and that the Conservative Party thought it grossly unfair that property owners had not been allowed to raise their rents. The document, which is signed by an hon. Member opposite—[An HON. MEMBER: "What is his name?"]—goes on to say:If we are returned to power, I can assure you that this will be dealt with as a matter of urgency.Someone is asking for the name of the hon. Gentleman opposite who signed the document. It comes from the Govan Unionist Association, and is signed by someone who now represents Govan.
The Whitson Committee devoted paragraph 19 of their report to the laxity of owners. In it, they referred tothe absence of any provision out of rent incomes by way of sinking funds and repairs fund to meet the demands of obsolescence and extinction of the investments. …They deplored that. There never has been any such allowance made. Two accountants at least have spoken from the benches opposite, but neither of them referred to that. The tendency is, as the Whitson Commission states, to regard property as a perpetual investment. One of the members of that Commission said:The poverty, proved or otherwise, of the ship owner is not permitted to interfere with the regulations and standards laid down by the Board of Trade.But hon. Members opposite have not only agreed to property-owners running their accounts without any regard to reserves for obsolescence, but are actually prepared, if returned to power, to ask the electors to bear an increase in rent of 25 per cent. in order to bolster up the sinking ships that should have been, and would have been, sunk years ago had the housing programme been maintained at anything like the proper speed.
Reference has been made to housing conditions, but only one remedy is offered from the benches opposite. It is, let 653 private enterprise have its fling. It is remarkable that we are constantly led from the benches opposite by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith). They not only lead Scotland, but they also presume to lead in a United Kingdom Debate. What their qualifications are, I do not know, because of all the dismal records of housing enterprise, the worst is surely attached to Scotland.
We have had commission after commission being asked to report on why private enterprise failed so dismally, but the reports are well hidden. No one ever refers to them, certainly not hon. Members opposite. I have said that I do not know what their qualifications are. On Monday of this week the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove told us that one of his qualifications is that he is a certified midwife. I understand that one of the first things a midwife ought to do is to listen to the beat of the foetal heart. If anyone ever fulfilled this duty—metaphorically—in regard to housing, he would find that the private enterprise heart never started to beat, or, if it did, that the umbilical cord of private profit strangled it before it was born.
I want the young hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) just to have a look at the report of the Sorn Commission because he was very concerned about the ratio of local authority houses, between England and Scotland this ratio being one in eight and a half or one in 10. Does not he know what private enterprise in Scotland has performed? May I read to him page seven about the performance of private enterprise? The report said that in England and Wales during the two and a half years between 31st March, 1934, and 30th September, 1936, 148,670 houses were built of an annual rateable value up to £35——an average output of 59,464 houses per annum.
In the same three years in Scotland, the output of private enterprise, unrestricted and even subsidised—because it was subsidised in 1923 by £6 a house—was 1,593 per annum. During that time private enterprise in Scotland had a complete monopoly; the withdrawal of the Wheatley Act gave it that complete monopoly. In England and Wales in 1937, private enterprise produced 72,775 houses, 654 but in Scotland only 1,710. That is the ratio. I do not think that in future the hon. Member for Hillhead, will be worried about the ratio of one in 10 when it is contrasted with the Sorn Commission's Report on private enterprise.
§ Commander Galbraith
Is the hon. Lady saying that in 1935 private enterprise built only one house in 10?
§ Mrs. Mann
I am quoting the Sorn Commission's Report. Shall I go on and quote all these statistics relating to houses built by private enterprise, and let? They indicate that in this category at that time, between 40 and 50 houses were provided in England and Wales for every one in Scotland—not one in 10—which represents one house for every 500 to 600 persons in England and Wales as against one for every 3,000 to 3,500 persons in Scotland. This output obviously bears no relation to the housing requirements of the two countries, and yet hon. Members opposite continue to press for private enterprise.
We had the Whitson Report, the Onslow Report, the Marley No. 1 and No. 2 Reports, the Ridley No. 1 and No. 2 Reports, and, finally, we had the Sorn Report, which is the daddy of them all. Here is a summary of the recommendations of the Sorn Committee—here is the only basis on which private enterprise can foe tempted to build in Scotland. They actually urged the limitation of owner's rates by a reduction of 75 per cent. in the £ of the consolidated rates. The rest of the population had to come to the rescue and leave private enterprise with only 5s. in the £ to pay where everyone else had to pay 20s. This relief was to operate for the first 25 years and we were to go on paying in order to tempt private enterprise to build. The report said:We desire to emphasise that the relief is wholly required to remove the rating disability from private enterprise.I do not think that if there is a young couple wanting to buy a house, conditions are altogether unfavourable. I have a newspaper here and page after page is filled with homes for sale. Never were there so many homes for sale offered to the people of Scotland. Every newspaper is crowded with them, from the slum den for which they are asking £400 to the ordinary bungalow for which they are asking £4,500. This is private enterprise 655 having its glorious fling and exploiting to its heart's content. There are plenty of these houses.
Hon. Members opposite referred to houses to let. Private enterprise cannot build houses to let. I refer them to the Sorn Report which states most emphatically that rent control must be done away with altogether. It says this could be done in one of two ways:So far as the future is concerned we are of opinion that it is essential to remove this difficulty in order to restore confidence in Scottish house property as an investment.That is what hon. Members opposite are interested in—house property as a service or as an investment. The Sorn Committee tells us how it can be done:This could be done in one of two ways: either by permitting owners of rent-controlled property to recover increases in rates by raising their rents. …—that is by abolishing rent control—or by limiting owners' rates. Here is their opinion on what is to be the future for the people of Scotland. If private enterprise is to be attracted to building houses for letting the rents must go up. They say:Our information is … that so far from being prepared to pay more for his accommodation the Scotsman has always been disinclined to allocate as great a proportion of his earnings for this purpose as the English tenant. …Therefore, up with the Scotsman's rents. The Report goes on:Although we are unable to obtain any statistical proof of this statement, the general consensus of opinion seems to be that whereas in England … the lower paid working man regarded 20 per cent. as quite a reasonable proportion to set aside for house-room, in Scotland he would not readily allocate more than 15 per cent. …Can we blame him for being unwilling to allocate too much when we remember the greater incidence of unemployment in Scotland? The Report adds:Here, then, is another factor restricting the operations of private house builders, who must see the possibility of charging rents ensuring an economic return before they will provide houses for letting.Why do not hon. Members opposite tell the people that their real policy is to bring back private enterprise, which has completely failed to build houses in Scotland? It cannot build houses unless they are free of rates and free of rent control and unless private enterprise is allowed 656 to exploit the people in houses for sale and also in houses to rent.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. W. G. Bennett (Glasgow, Woodside)
I am deeply conscious that housing is one of the most controversial subjects one could enter into on a maiden speech, and for that reason I crave the indulgence of the Committee.
There have been many speeches this afternoon, and we all seem to be agreed on the principle that need must be the first priority. We appear to have accepted the principle that a house, whenever and wherever built, will be allocated to the person who has the greatest necessity. That being so, I should like to give one or two facts and figures showing that in Scotland, at least, Glasgow has the greatest need. I am going to make a special plea for Glasgow. The hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) said that private enterprise never provided the goods, could not provide the goods and never would provide the goods. The goods in question are houses for the people. I want to remind the Committee that until 1914 private enterprise alone provided all the houses for Glasgow.
§ Mr. Bennett
There were 13,000 empty houses. They were the finest houses built in Scotland, ranging from a single apartment to seven apartments. The older houses were being left empty and the new houses were being occupied. In 1918, when I came back at the end of the war, I had the choice of four or five houses of from three to seven apartments in various parts of Glasgow. The number to let was then 1,000. The number of houses still vacant in May, 1919, was 600. These are all figures obtainable from the Glasgow Corporation.
Why was it that we had a difficulty after this? We are all anxious to provide houses. Why do we not get away from blaming one another for the years after the First and Second World Wars? After the First World War we had a number of houses empty. After the Second World War we had a waiting list in Glasgow of 80,000. After the First World War we had 1,000 empty houses and the factors were looking for tenants. At the end of the Second World War, 657 we had 80,000 families looking for houses—an entirely different proposition.
It is my belief and experience, after having a considerable number of years in local government, that the House of Commons is responsible for the shortage of houses today. The remedy is in our hands. In 1919 the House passed the Housing Act giving housing authorities power to build. It did so because it knew that from that year onwards it was not possible for anyone to put money into house property and let it at a rent which the tenant could pay, and that building had to be subsidised.
Then a subsidy was brought in. From then on neither private enterprise nor any sort of enterprise could be expected to provide houses to let. I will give an illustration. We have one or two wonderful organisations which look after the welfare not only of the working man but of the middle class and upper middle class. We have the Co-operative Society. They have been buying hotels for many years; they have been buying all sorts of things, including buses in which to run people about the country. But they have not put any money into houses for the people. Before 1918 they put money into property. That is just a simple illustration. It is not right to blame someone for not doing something which we would not do ourselves.
In 1945 we were 80,000 houses short. I believe that the latest figure from the Glasgow Corporation is 94,000. In five years we have not only failed to provide houses for the 80,000 but we have gone back 14,000. During that period we have rehoused another 14,000 by means of new houses, prefabs, houses which have been divided so as to provide accommodation for several families, and so on. But there are still 36,000 homeless in Glasgow, most of them married people with families. There are 29,000 in overcrowded homes. We have 1,700 young people wanting to get married, and there are 10,000 marriages every year in Glasgow. We have 27,000 on the other waiting list, consisting of people who can wait possibly six months or a year—a total of 94,000. What are we going to do with the 94,000? It is not the fact, as the Minister of Health said this week and last week, that many authorities are not taking up their allocations? Glasgow must be complimented because 658 Glasgow has not only used up 2,500 of the 1951 allocation already; at the end of 1950 she will have used up the whole of her 1951 allocation. She is a year ahead of building.
Certain things must be done. The Secretary of State has said that he could tell as many harrowing tales as anyone. There are families where the last to bed at night is the first up in the morning. The beds are on the floor, and the last in bed has got to get up first in the morning so that the others can get their clothes on. I know of houses where the occupants have to take all their hats and coats off the beds and put them on the table, but they do not know what to do with them when they get up in the morning. However, to come along and harrow the Committee with tales like that will not solve the problem.
The medical officer of health has asked the Glasgow Corporation what can be done as regards T.B. cases. The number of cases dealt with has been stepped up during the past three years from roughly 300 to 450. This year the number is about 780, but on 31st December last there were still 1,400 T.B. cases on the list. The medical officer of health is asking the housing department for about 1,500 houses this year to clear off the waiting list. These T.B. cases have to wait about a year or a year and a half; meantime other members of the family become infected.
In my opinion, the solution is this. Of the building workers registered at the exchange in Glasgow, only 33 per cent. are working on house construction, either with private concerns or with the Glasgow Corporation. Roughly 7,000 are employed on new construction out of 22,000-odd. The other 66 per cent. are in other sorts of jobs. Why is that? We know that there is a percentage employed on maintenance, but there are very few engaged in building schools; the figure is about 1,000-odd. There are too many building employees on jobs which are not No. 1 priority. They leave the City centre every day in their hundreds and their thousands. We ought to be employing them in Glasgow. We should have another 50 per cent. of the number which we have just now.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that there is no difficulty about timber. There seems to be no difficulty about bricks or cement; we have been told that 659 there are plenty of bricks and cement. I can assure the Committee that Glasgow is well ahead with the servicing of new sites. When I left the Corporation we were awaiting word from Edinburgh as to when we could start the job. Since then, I believe the right hon. Gentleman has pushed them and they are now almost at the end of next year's housing programme. I suggest in all sincerity that the Glasgow target for next year ought to be 15,000 houses. I am certain that we could complete most of them without disturbing anybody else. Fifteen thousand houses might seem a great many to some places, like Stewarton, but it is nothing at all in Glasgow. In 1935 the percentage of people engaged in new work in Scotland was 48 per cent. In 1948 it was 31 per cent., and in 1950 it is down to 25 per cent., or at the most 33 per cent.
We have in Glasgow any number of derelict areas. The people of Glasgow want houses in the city. If we built multistorey flats there would be no school problem, nor would there be housing, church or transport problems, and we should not have the demand which we are having just now for community centres. In the area which the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok represents, we have a community centre which could take in 1,000 people. There is an enormous waiting list for houses and the population is 30,000. It costs, at the moment, £500 a week to send the children to schools that already exist outside the area. The people of Glasgow want to see the building of houses and multi-storey flats containing every amenity—refrigerators and so on; and I think they can be provided.
We have been told to keep our speeches short tonight and I think I have covered a fair amount of ground. There are several other points I should have liked to make, but I will conclude by emphasising to the Secretary of State that we shall be grateful for any help he can give, and by recalling a quotation from Robert Burns:To make a happy fire-side climeTo weans and wife,That's the true pathos and sublimeOf human life.If the Secretary of State is prepared to demand from the Government what Scotland desires, what she requires and what she demands, he will have the support of 660 all Scottish Members, irrespective of party. The strongest Secretaries of State for Scotland we have had in this House have been men who have stood by Scotland, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman seriously to consider what we want today.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I am sure I speak on behalf of all hon. Members on both sides of the Committee when I offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for Woodside (Mr. Bennett) on his maiden speech. He has given evidence that he has a great deal of information and that he speaks with feeling on the subject of housing, and I am sure we shall welcome him to the turmoil of future debates in which, I am sure, he will enjoy himself very much. There is another point on which we are all in agreement this afternoon, and it is that none of us is satisfied with the rate at which houses are being built in Scotland today. Every speaker has mentioned that point, including my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State himself.
But the purpose of this Debate, so far as the Opposition are concerned, seems to be to prove that the Government have failed miserably in building houses. If that is true, we ought to examine the position. We have heard from hon. Members opposite that we ought not to expect them to say how they would remedy the situation; that, they say, is something for the Government. Again, while they will not tell us what they would do, they say we ought not to go back into the past to see how they did it when they were in power. Apparently we should grope about in the dark with some of the vague promises they have made.
The only firm statement from the Opposition has been that private enterprise should have a square deal and that then, as a result, there would be more houses. Turning to the past, perhaps I may follow the procedure of drawing on my own experience rather than relying on the many committee reports which have already been mentioned. When I returned from the 1914–18 war, I was not fortunate enough to have the choice of a house. In fact, it was only after four years of married life and four years of waiting for a house—and hon. Members opposite were in power at that time—that I was able to find something which was called a house. In fact, it consisted 661 of two rooms, the larger of which was 9 ft. long by 8 ft. broad. The other room was much smaller. That was not the responsibility of a Socialist Government. The position was particularly shocking when hon. Members consider that I was employed in the mines and came home from work wet and filthy. This room, 9 ft. by 8 ft., was my bedroom, my dining room and my bathroom, and later, when I became a member of a local authority, it became my consulting room.
Perhaps hon. Members opposite think we ought not to look back on those things, but I would remind them that there were no pithead baths in the area at that time; not one colliery in the area had a pithead bath. Yet I am satisfied that people who could not afford it, could have obtained a much better house, but not many people in my area could afford to have a house built. Shortly afterwards the miners' wages were 8s. a shift, with three shifts a week, and one cannot afford a very good house on 24s. a week.
Nevertheless, I am quite prepared to examine the Opposition's case that if private enterprise were given the job it would mean houses being built much more quickly. I must ask myself one or two questions and the first is this: If that is true, are we to take it that the private contractors who are building houses for the corporations today—building for those who need houses—are not giving of their best? What is the answer to that? Because if they could make a greater effort in building houses for people who can afford them than they are making in building for those who need them, then it would appear that they are holding something back. The argument of hon. Members opposite does not seem to me to be logical.
Or perhaps the suggestion is that the building workers, who today are building houses in Scotland mainly for people who need them, are not building them quickly enough, but that if the Government suddenly were to change their policy and to begin removing the controls and allowing houses to be built for people who could afford them, then the building workers would work much more quickly. Where is the logic in that argument? It means that either they are holding things up or that they do not want to build houses for people who need them, and that if controls were removed they would 662 quickly build houses for the people who could afford to buy them.
During the years in which I was waiting for a house, there was one building, in particular, going up in Kirkcaldy. It had priority. It was an employment exchange to deal with the rising unemployment in the area. It was a substantial building and among the first to sign on in the newly-erected employment exchange were workers in the building trade. That is something which does not take place today, except perhaps if they are passing through for a day or two.
Nevertheless, although there is obviously much wrong with the arguments we have heard today from hon. Members opposite, we are left in the same position—we still require houses. Even so, there are more houses being built in Kirkcaldy and the surrounding area today than at any time in the history of Kirkcaldy, and never have there been such good houses built as are being built at the present time. The houses built in the past bear no comparison whatever with those being built today.
Having said that, it must not be thought that I am satisfied that we are building enough. We shall never reach that position until everyone has a house. Local authorities have built more houses in the last year and the year before that, however, than at any time during the inter-war years to which the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) referred. He said that the tempo of building would pick up, but we are building far more houses than we built then. As late as 1937 to 1938, which was the peak year for building in the inter-war years, the local authorities in Scotland built just over 19,000 houses. Over and above that, a considerable amount of house building was done for people who could afford to buy, but the local authorities in Scotland built in those years just over 19,000 houses. If that is compared with the figures for houses built last year and the year before that, then the case presented by the Opposition is indeed a very bad one.
It is perfectly true that many people are waiting for houses, but there has been a big increase in the population and it may be that many of the people who are looking for a house today represent the increase in the birth rate after the 663 1914–18 war. I will not go into that question, but certainly it is possible that the waiting list is not completely dissociated from that fact. Nevertheless, today people can look for a house which is a decent house, whereas in my time they had to look for a house which was a cheap house, no matter what type of house it was.
I should, however, be happy of something could be done to expedite the rate of building. The productivity in house building in this country is just as important as the productivity in any other industry. Just as in other industries, there are certain operators in this industry whose productive capacity is fairly easy to measure—for instance, the bricklayer or the joiner, who are doing specific jobs. We can measure the work the man is doing and give him a reward for doing it by way of increased wages. But that does not apply to all the workers. I was very interested to hear my right hon. Friend say that incentive payments have been made by those particular contractors. I should like my hon. Friend, when he replies to the Debate, to tell us whether they are paid to everyone building houses, shops and factories. I am afraid that not very long ago it was the position that employers in the building industry refused to consider incentive payments.
However, I suggest that there may be a quickening in productivity, and to achieve this we ought to get into closer consultation with all those employed in the building industry. One of my hon. Friends has spoken of new methods in house building—the fitting of hoists, for instance, rather than the carrying of hods. We should like to know what has been the increase in the building of houses as a result of changes of that sort. I have heard accusations that the people engaged in the building industry are not giving us of their best. I have heard such accusations many times. It is very easy to accuse other people of not working very hard. I should not like to tackle some of the jobs those people have to do—and least of all in some of the weather in which they have to do them. But if there is a way of quickening the rate of building houses, it ought to be found, and in the finding of it the Government ought to get into the closest consultation with everyone associated with the building industry. It may be that they have met the 664 trade unions on many occasions. Well, another effort may be necessary.
I am satisfied that it is no argument to say that the houses that are being built today are not of the orthodox type—of the type of house that was built before the war. When I compare the type of home the miners in my area used to live in, and which, apparently, was an orthodox type, with the type they are living in now, which is not orthodox, then I am glad of the change, and I hope that it will be continued along those particular lines.
Time goes on, and as I believe in fair shares even of the time available for hon. Members to speak, I propose to resume my seat, grateful indeed that we have made so much progress. I know that in my own area, and in Scotland as a whole there is much to be done now and in the future, and I hope that every avenue will be explored in order that the large figures of the numbers of applicants for houses shall come down. I hope that none of us will be satisfied until that happens.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton (Inverness)
I think the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard) said there was a great measure of agreement on both sides of the Committee on this matter. The first thing we agree upon is that housing is No. 1 social priority. But it seems to me an extraordinary thing that in a period in which there is so much agreement we are at the same time prepared to punish someone for the wicked crime of building his own house. But that remains the case. Indeed, I think the key of the matter may be found in the statement made by the Minister of Health, when he spoke in the Debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech. He said:… the housing programme of this country has to be curtailed, and every programme has to be curtailed so long as we have full employment. One of the consequences of full employment is that if we want to have more of a particular thing we can only have it at the expense of some other thing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 865.]The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs said we ought to examine the output of the building industry. He was right in saying so. There are two great variables in building. The first is the output of the industry; and the second is that the procuring of its materials depends 665 upon Britain's export-import trade. Unless it can be proved that the productivity of the industry has been fully employed and that all the resources devoted to the procurement of materials are obtaining the maximum they can, then the demand for more houses does not logically imply the demand of less of anything else. I think we should approach this subject on both sides of the Committee quite impartially, and examine it from that point of view.
We have this rather sad figure given to us, that Scotland's need in 1945 for new houses was about 500,000. Since 1945 we have had the total of rather under 120,000 provided. Furthermore we know that there are 180,819 applicants for houses today throughout Scotland. We have an enormous number of people living uncomfortably with their parents or their parents-in-law and living in overcrowded conditions. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) mentioned Army camps taken over by people wanting homes. Well, I think we should remember the viewpoint of the people who want houses. We cannot be too surprised that they surge out and take camps whenever the Army or the people from either of the other Services move out of them. I think we must take into consideration the fact that it is an inherent desire of people, of every man and woman, to own their own homes, or, if not actually own them, to have places they can call "a home of our own."
The Secretary of State has been to the United States, and he has, no doubt, seen the type of hotel which they call "motel," which consists of a number of huts round about a community centre. A motel is not at all unattractive. It is not in principle unlike—it is much more attractive than—some of the camps in which we had to live during the war. I believe that there is an urgent need for this type of thing today, and that it would provide homes, to overcome some of our housing shortage—but it must be entirely on a temporary basis. If these places were skilfully built and arranged they would provide temporary homes for people until they could get their own individual houses. I would suggest that there is an urgent and imperative need today for something of this sort to be done. Certainly, something has to be done urgently 666 today if we are to overcome our difficulties.
There are one or two other small points that I should like to suggest—small, but important none the less as temporary measures. We have in the Highlands, where, possibly, we are not quite so badly off for housing, by present standards, as other parts of the country, at any rate from the point of view of figures—we have in the Highlands a special need. I would suggest to the Secretary of State that he should regard it from the point of view of the possibilities for the Highlands. We want to see Highland development, and we want opportunity to be given for industrial development in the Highlands, which at present does not exist. Of course, we have to look to the future; but anything which can be done today to help the future of the Highlands is immensely important not only to the Highlands but to the whole country.
There is in the Highlands already a need of houses for the people in industry. In Inverness we have an important industry, the welding industry. It has put in a demand to the local authority for about 50 houses. It has been offered 12 council houses, and now suddenly it has been offered 13 Swedish houses. The Swedish houses are at double the rent of the others. Is there not some way of overcoming this? Inverness is a development area, and surely we can overcome this difficulty so as to allow people in the same place to pay the same rent—even if only as a temporary arrangement.
When the Minister of Health stated the other day that we cannot get more houses in a policy of full employment, what he meant was that a planned economy does not allow enough room for expansion in any particular direction without affecting something else. If economy is so planned that we cannot get houses for the people, then there is either something wrong with the planning or something wrong with the whole policy. I cannot see that under a controlled economy the problem is insoluble, but I do say that that concentrates responsibility upon the controller, and it is the fulfilment of that responsibility for which we now look.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
I should like to congratulate the noble Lord the Member for Inverness 667 (Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton) on repeating part of my maiden speech of 1935. At that time, and on many occasions after it, I pleaded with his right hon. Friends who then formed the Government of this country to take positive and urgent action for the development of the Highlands and Islands, but for whatever has been done we had to wait till a Labour Government came into office.
For example, before Inverness was designated a development area, we had to wait until this Government came to power—although quite honestly I do not think it was the right area to designate in the Highlands, with great respect to the hopes and aspirations of the noble Lord. I think that in his heart he will agree with me that it might have been better had other places been taken, where they have a problem of under-development, instead of taking land which will clash with the urgent needs of agriculture.
In relation to the accommodation of people in that area, for the first time in many years we have had at least a gesture in the provision of Swedish houses, for which we have waited for years because Tory and Liberal dominated local authorities have not provided any houses at all. The Swedish house was put in as a special gesture by the Government. The noble Lord referred in passing, and rightly referred, to the deplorable conditions in the mining areas, and I would not challenge his authority on that point. I am sure he knows both sides of the mining industry—both the miner's row and the mine-owner's mansion—better than any hon. Member. After the legacy left in the mining areas, particularly of Lanarkshire, it is flattering of the Opposition to expect us to be able to clean it up in five or six years of Labour government.
Tonight I want to put a question to the Opposition as a Highland and rural Member. Not only do I put this question for the Western Isles, but I presume to put it for all the Highlands and Islands and most of the rural areas of Scotland. Can, or would—I know the answer to the question "has"—private enterprise solve the problem of the rural area? If not, why not? Because private enterprise building had no conscious social purpose in relation to the housing problem. They went to places like the constituency of the hon. and gallant 668 Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) and his son the hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith), where the prosperous Tory voters would assure them of a good profit on building houses for sale.
They did not go into the glens and Islands to build houses for the poor crofters and fishermen, because although they knew those people needed houses as desperately as those in the industrial areas, they also knew that those poor people could not afford to pay the money. Those people had to wait until the State and public authorities came in to build; and they built on a real basis of private enterprise—the private enterprise of a man building with his own hands. The man who was too poor to be able to buy a house because he had not his own bankroll, had to wait until the State came in, until we had the Labour Housing Acts, the Wheatley Act, the Greenwood Act, and those Acts which have enabled houses to be built in the Highlands and Islands.
Even since the war, good legislation has been frustrated and thwarted by bad local authorities. It took the county council of Inverness four years to get under way and build a single house in their rural area. I am surprised that the noble Lord has not rubbed it into his local authority that they were frustrating the efforts which were being made by the much-attacked and much-despised "Whitehall and the Westminster Labour Government. I agree with him on the question of the high rent of Swedish houses. In the Islands we are more fortunate, because we are able to let the houses at about £30 a year rent, whereas in Inverness the rent may be £100. What working can can afford a rent of £100 a year? What will happen to these houses if they are not made available to those people for whom they were intended, and for whom the Tory local council provided no other accommodation? Unless there is some special subsidy, or some other method is introduced to make them available to the working classes, including the industrial workers, those houses will go to the highest bidder, or to those who have the most effective means of paying for them out of their bankroll.
Let us not dodge this issue. The hon. Member for Hillhead asked: Why not let us have some of the English houses? Why not sacrifice them and build more 669 houses in Scotland? That is not the answer, and that is not the problem. Where there is poverty in England, there is no hope for the poor; and where there is poverty in Scotland, the same conditions prevail. Where the noble Lord's family and the other mine owners were, there were the mansions; they never had a housing problem. Where the miners were, whether in England or Scotland, there were the miners' rows and the slums.
Whether in Scotland or England—and this problem cuts across all frontiers—housing is a poverty problem mainly. There are those who can afford houses but who need better houses than they have; those whose families have grown, who are not poor people but who require more accommodation. But we are facing that fact; we are not making houses available solely on the basis of people being below a certain income; a means test is not applied in that way. On the other hand, we cannot go to the other extreme and say, "Because you have money, there is the house. You can break the queue."
I have asked the question and I want the Opposition to answer if they can. Have they built the houses by private enterprise in the Islands, especially, and in the Highlands and the rural areas? If they have not, who has? It is obviously a thing that local authorities and the State had to take on, and we should be grateful for the Government and public Acts enabling what has been done in those places.
As the law stands—and we on this side of the Committee made the law with the help, and at times against the obstruction, of the Opposition—new houses cannot be built unless water supplies and sanitation are laid on, and in many rural areas, especially in the Highlands and Islands, building is being held back because of the lack of drive, initiative and progress in providing water supplies and sanitation. I do not blame the Government altogether, although they must take their share of the blame because they are not pushing the local authorities The local people must also take their share of the blame for electing Tories and Liberals to the local government.
The local authorities have not taken advantage of the most generous grants that have been made available to them for providing water supplies and sanita- 670 tion. They could have had grants of up to 85 per cent. Why did they not take advantage of that and get on with their schemes? They have not done it. Likewise, I should like to see more pressure brought to bear upon recalcitrant Tory and Liberal dominated local authorities. The Government alone cannot be charged on this issue, but the utmost pressure should be brought upon the local authorities to provide the water supplies and sanitation—without which they cannot legally provide houses—by taking advantage of the grants provided to them under recent measures. We cannot allow the Government merely to say, "Leave it to the local authorities." It is in the interests of public health, and certainly of housing, to put pressure on local authorities, even if the Government do think it is a little bit undemocratic.
In these rural areas, instead of waiting for each local crofter, or the old lady along the road, to decide when his or her house is too dilapidated to be lived in any longer and then to make application for a grant, the Department should take the initiative by going into village areas and trying to persuade the people to interest themselves in village planning. By that means, we could avoid the situation in which an individual in a Highland village decides to have a new house; later his neighbour, almost next door, decides that he is going to build on exactly the same site, and then someone else from further down the road also decides to build on the same site as the old house. Then we come to water supplies, electrification and other services, and we have an uneconomical demand to meet because there is this lack of initiative on the part of the people who should make themselves responsible for planning our villages. Cannot they go into the villages and meet the people?
All those who require homes, should be pressed to make applications for grants to build new homes, and the authorities should try to plan the applications for the building of these houses in such a way as to have a properly-planned village which can have economic water supply, electricity and other services. We require their initiative and action. I agree with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who stressed the importance of more planning in the villages and the provision of amenities, even if it is only in the matter of hedges 671 and shelter-belts. I hope that, above all, the question of water supply for rural houses will be taken up with the utmost urgency because, strictly speaking it is now against the law to build houses unless there is a water supply laid on, and proper sanitation.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
A great many Members still want to speak, and I shall be very brief and deal only with one aspect of this housing problem. I should be grateful if whoever is to reply would make reference to the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) about the easing of restrictions under the Town and Country Planning Act. As the Committee know, a statement was made yesterday by the Minister of Town and Country Planning, and as the Secretary of State for Scotland is in charge of those functions in Scotland, it is desirable that the people of Scotland should be informed as soon as possible whether it is the intention to follow much the same lines in Scotland in the easing of restrictions as is being followed in England.
Incidentally, while on that subject, I was rather interested in what the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party had to say—he is not in the Chamber now—because I have a distinct recollection that that party voted solidly for the Town and Country Planning Bill in the last Parliament. That recollection I have checked in HANSARD in the Library. They have as much responsibility for what has arisen out of that Act as the Government themeselves.
The point that I wish to deal with is one which was referred to in Question and answer on Tuesday, and to which reference was made by the Secretary of State and by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok in opening this Debate. That is the question of the granting of licences for the building of houses for owner occupation. As I understand the position the Secretary of State for Scotland abides by the written answer to a Question which was printed in HANSARD on the 29th March which gives a rough allocation of one house in 10 to be built for owner occupation. The number of people who may acquire such houses is restricted to certain categories laid down in the answer to the Question.
672 I feel that in this respect Scotland is not being treated as fairly as England. I feel that our local authorities should be placed in the same position as the local authorities in the southern part of the country. They should be allowed to allocate licences for one house in five to be built for owner occupation. As I understand the statement of the Minister of Health, which I have here, it is possible in exceptional cases in England for the local authorities to exceed even that allocation. I do not think that it is fair that Scotland should be treated in an inferior manner. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his decision long before the six months to which he referred have passed.
I will give two arguments in favour of owner occupation. I believe that it is a good thing socially that people should be encouraged to own their own houses and I do not think that it is very desirable that everyone should be placed in the position of becoming a tenant either of a local authority or of a State body, such as the Special Housing Association. I feel that it is right to encourage people to become independent householders, and I do not understand the objection of hon. Gentlemen opposite to that theory. My second point is this: Every house which is built by a person for his own occupation involves a saving in money from the point of view of the State, inasmuch that no subsidy is required from the State or the local authority. I think that that is an important factor at a time like this when we are faced with high costs and a high level of taxation.
I would remind the Secretary of State of the findings of the Building Industry Productivity Team which visited the United States in July and August, 1949, and whose report was published last week. There is a copy in the Library, which I was looking at two days ago. I would ask the Secretary of State, or one of his Under-Secretaries, to have a look at Recommendation No. 11, which he will find on page 65 of that Report. I will read a brief passage from it:The responsible authorities are urged to take all possible steps to make available to the industry adequate supplies of essential materials, particularly timber, and to ease or remove the existing onerous restrictions on private enterprise house building for sale and rental.673 I put it to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government that that Report is the unanimous product of a team of people, representative of all parts of the building industry. There were in fact, if he looks at the composition of the team, six representatives of the employers, four of the professional associations associated with building, and six of the building operatives. I think that when a three-party committee, as it were, of that nature gives a unanimous report, due attention ought to be given to its findings by the Government and action taken upon it.
I have one further point. I think that it was the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart) who made an interjection in the course of the Secretary of State's opening speech, and suggested in regard to the granting of licences that there might be some variation or flexibility in treatment as between one local authority and another. I support that plea very strongly because conditions vary considerably as between one city and another and one county and another. I say that, because in Edinburgh there is a greater demand for houses for owner occupation than possibly in some other parts of Scotland. The Joint Under-Secretary will recollect that on 14th April he received a deputation from the Housing Committee of the Edinburgh Corporation, in which they put before him a number of suggestions and recommendations, one of which was the encouragement of owner occupation and the allocation of licences of one in five houses for owner occupation. I would ask him to consider the pleas put forward by the local authority who know the conditions in the city, and the fact that there are an appreciable number of people who would be prepared to build houses for themselves.
Finally, I come to one other point arising out of this subject and also of a Question I put to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, to which my hon. and gallant Friend also referred in the closing passages of his speech, and that is the astonishing fact that in the city of Edinburgh there are today some 32 houses whose construction was started by independent builders prior to the outbreak of war, and for which licences have not been granted for completion.
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison
They are in the early stages. The foundations are laid down, and in some cases they are little more than a shell. They are in groups. In 1946 licences were granted for finishing so many in a group, and in 1947 further licences were given, but since that year there have been no more licences because, as the hon. Member will recollect, private building licensing was then stopped altogether.
I suggest that this matter ought to be looked at from the point of view of common sense. The materials, window frames, doors and other fittings are collected on the sites and, together with the shells of the houses, they are deteriorating from exposure. It is rather wasteful to leave them in their present condition. I gather, from the answer that was given, that the objection of the Secretary of State is that these houses were to be for sale and not for renting. I do not know whether he appreciates the fact that, owing to the layout of the houses, it is simply not possible to bring them within the maximum ceiling prices at present authorised. The plans are different. The houses are to have artificial stone facings, and the rooms will be larger than those allowed under the present regulations laid down by the Department of Health.
I ask the Secretary of State to let these buildings be completed. I will give him one further argument. I understand that Members opposite are very strongly addicted to planning. I feel sure they will agree that these skeletons and exposed foundations are untidy, unsightly and an eyesore, and that it would be in the interests of symmetry, apart from anything else, to complete them. I put that point in all seriousness. We do not want to have any untidy corners around our capital City. I ask that further consideration be given to this matter, and that what I call doctrinal prejudice should not be allowed to outweigh common sense.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hoy (Leith)
I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Edinburgh, West (Lieut.-Commander Hutchison) for raising the problem of unsightly corners in our city. Unfortunately, we have too many unsightly streets in Edinburgh. When we come to discuss the 675 problem of housing, we ought to remind ourselves of the appalling slums which exist in Scotland. Members opposite talk about the slums as if they were the product of the last four years, but, indeed, they are not. They are something we have inherited from the years gone by. I only wish the same enthusiasm the hon. and gallant Member has shown for the erection of a block of what I understand are luxury flats, had been shown for the clearance of these slums.
§ Mr. Hoy
I understand they are in the area off Queensferry Road. I wish that he had shown the same enthusiasm to get rid of the slums as he has shown for the erection of these houses.
I was surprised to hear the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) complaining of this Governments record in building houses in Scotland. He quoted the figures for the years 1919 and 1939. I would remind him that labour and materials were available then in plenty and that Members opposite did not achieve their record until 1938, when they built some 26,000 houses. Therefore, it took them from 1919 to 1938 to achieve the total we have passed in one year. Last year, the total number of permanent houses built reached nearly 26,000. That is in a matter of four and a half years, and yet he complains of our record in this matter. If he would compare that record with the like period when his party were in office, he would see how much better is our record. I do not put that forward as an excuse or to whitewash the position, because housing in Scotland is such a tremendous problem. The hon. and gallant Gentleman should not seek to castigate the Government's record in view of the deplorable record of his party in the past.
I should like to put one or two questions to the Opposition. After all, there is a limit to what can be built in Scotland and any other part of the country, or, for that matter, in the world. It is within these limitations that we have to decide how we are going to spend the money, and on what we are going to spend it and our labour forces and raw materials. It is no good the hon. and gallant Member coming to the House at Question Time and demanding more 676 schools, and then his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) saying let us forget schools and hospitals and concentrate on housing.
Members opposite must make up their minds what they want. They must say how they want our capital to be used and how it should be divided. Within this compass we then have to decide, and they have to decide, what sort of houses are to be built, and to whom they are to be allocated. For the first time, the hon. and gallant Member for Edinburgh, West, has said something his Front Bench has refused to say. He has asked for a one-in-five allocation to the private builder.
§ Mr. Hoy
The hon. and gallant Member said there should be a one-in-five allocation, and that these houses should be for sale. That means that last year, when 25,847 houses were erected in Scotland, the hon. and gallant Member would have allowed 5,000 people to buy their way out of the queue, and the others would, unfortunately, have to wait another year or two.
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison
I said flexibility should be allowed, as some local authorities might want more and some less.
§ Commander Galbraith
That is not the argument. The Minister of Health has allowed a similar allocation in the case of England.
§ Mr. Hoy
That is no answer from the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith). He and his party have said that housing conditions in Scotland and in England are so different that we have to do different things about them. That is no argument at all. Let us take Edinburgh as an example. In the city which the hon. and gallant Gentleman and I both represent, a census was taken quite recently in which 25,000 families were consulted. Perhaps the figure is 15,000. I cannot be certain. In any case, fewer than 677 5 per cent. of the people wanted houses to buy. The hon. and gallant Member cannot deny it. Those are the people in most need, the overcrowded and the houseless.
It is a tremendous problem. The hon. and gallant Gentleman should know better than to seek to get publicity for a proposal of the kind he put forward. He is trying to say that if we gave private enterprise the right to build houses for sale we should get a better return. In other words, he is castigating the private builder. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman asks for private building he means private houses for sale. All the houses being built in Edinburgh are being built by private enterprise. If he is suggesting that the builders are not doing their best or that they can do better, he ought to take the matter up with them because they are mostly attached to his party.
I wish to deal with a further question, about house repairing. In the Act of 1949 the Government have given local authorities the right to take over buildings, put them into habitable condition, and bring them up to date. I notice that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was very careful not to say what his party's policy is in this matter. He does not say that something ought to be done for the landlord but that something ought to be done for the property which is owned by the landlord, which is the same thing. There have been many suggestions. A noble Lord suggested yesterday that the landlords should receive assistance from the National Assistance Board to keep their property up to date.
I want to suggest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that what it comes to is that the landlords should either be relieved of part of their local rates or we, as a Government, should repeal the Rent Restrictions Acts. I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman cares to answer and say whether I am right or wrong.
§ Commander Galbraith
The hon. Member has given about four methods which could be employed. It is for the Government of the day to say which method they wish to employ, but something has to be done about it.
§ Mr. Hoy
That is the same answer as the other hon. and gallant Gentleman has given. He declines to give an answer. He says: "We have no policy in the matter. We do not know what we want to do but we know that something requires to be done."
In view of those answers we are entitled to say to the Government that we are pleased with what they have done, so far. We believe that they ought to do much more because of the tremendous problem in Scotland and because we require ever so many more houses for all classes of the community. We believe that the problem ought to be approached in the way that it is being done. Houses are being produced for those who require them and are open to every section of the community——
§ Mr. Hoy
Oh, yes. In view of that record and in view of the fact that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last said that since 1945 just under 120,000 houses had been provided, we are pleased with what has been done. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has said that he cannot see them. He must open his eyes. That is the way the Government are tackling the matter. In view of the fact that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who opened the Debate declined to state on behalf of his party any policy, we must place on record our confidence in the Government which has given us the results.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. John Henderson (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I appreciate very much, Major Milner, that I have been able to catch your eye. I shall endeavour to show my appreciation by being particularly brief. I shall discard my list of figures showing the number of houses built under the Coalition Government and under the Labour Government. We have travelled a long way since then. Great masses of figures have been produced today which have left most of us with a sense of bewilderment. When all is said and done, there are still those unhappy individuals on the waiting list of 95,000 in the city of Glasgow who do not care twopence what took place during the last 10 or 15 years. They are wondering when they are to get the houses which were promised to them.
679 I am extremely sorry that the Secretary of State for Scotland has in a sense approved what was said recently by the Minister of Health about the new assessment of houses to be built for sale. The rate in Scotland is ten houses for letting to one for private sale as against five to one in England. Knowing the courage which the Secretary of State possesses and his fine spirit of Scottish independence, I should have thought he would have resented and resisted this discrimination between England and Scotland in respect of houses for sale. There is nothing to be ashamed of in putting forward a plan for houses for sale. Hon. Members on the other side seem to think that that is quite unjustifiable, but I beg to differ from them.
About 18 months ago in Glasgow a scheme was submitted by a well-known building contractor, one of the biggest in the country, who has done magnificent work. He offered to put up something like 400 semi-detached houses in my constituency, of the 4-apartment and 5-apart-ment type, with kitchenette, at an all-in price of £1,500, including roads. There would be no subsidy from the Government. The proposal was turned down because the local authority wanted to have the houses for letting in keeping with the policy of hon. Members opposite, yet a great section of the community want to buy their own houses. The difference between hon. Members opposite and on this side is that we seek to legislate for all sections of the community. Labour Members are so biased that they are prepared to sacrifice a great section of the middle class as far as houses for sale are concerned.
I do not think the decision of the Minister of Health will help the Labour Party at the next election. I understand that leaders of the Labour Party will be meeting in conference in a fortnight's time to consider their policy for the next election. They need not do what the Lord President of the Council suggests, try to woo the middle class. They wooed them in 1945 and got a fair amount of support. They found the Labour Party out and turned in the right direction and voted for the Conservative and Unionist Party at the last election. If hon. Gentlemen opposite are to persist in this class legislation and their determination not 680 to give the middle class a fair deal in housing it will be very unfavourably received by the middle class.
Who are the people who want to buy these houses? They are not wealthy people. They are the commercial traveller, the agent, the schoomaster, the young chartered accountant and many members of the medical profession who are most anxious——
§ Mrs. Cullen (Glasgow, Gorbals)
The hon. Member is speaking wholly and solely for his own constituency.
§ Mr. Henderson
The hon. Lady would be well advised to concentrate on trying to clear up the dirty mess in her own constituency because from the years I have had anything to do with the Corporation of the City of Glasgow, her predecessor who held the high office of Under-Secretary of State for Scotland did nothing for the Gorbals constituency in the City of Glasgow. Therefore, I suggest that the hon. Lady should confine herself to her own constituency.
Who are the people who want to buy these houses? They are chartered accountants, medical men and civil servants. They cannot afford to buy houses at the present price of £3,000 or £4,000. They have not an earthly chance of getting a council house, if they filled in the form accurately and truthfully, because their salary would indicate that they are not in the needy class. But they are anxious to branch out into a fuller life. They are anxious to get married, bring up a family and have a home of their own and pride of possession of a home of their own, something which is characteristic of the Scottish people and of which we should all be extremely proud. But it has been denied them. The Government want to put them into houses to let. My own parents occupied a flat for 45 years and they paid for that flat twice over. At the end of 45 years they vacated it and removed elsewhere.
Why should we compel people to pay rent for 40 years and then, through a change in economic circumstances, be thrown on the scrap heap with nothing to realise on the value of the house? I say it is wrong and I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will have another look at this and see if we cannot have a substantial increase in the number 681 of houses for sale and be brought to equality with England. I am surprised that Scottish Members with Scottish independence should accept this inferior allocation for Scotland.
I do not merit the hon. Gentleman's indulgence towards me at all. There is no question of my having accepted this. This is what I asked for and what the Government agreed upon. No one is imposing upon me.
§ Mr. Henderson
I leave the question in the hands of the Secretary of State, but I suggest to him, urge on him and appeal to him that we in Scotland should have equal treatment with England in regard to houses for sale.
There is the question of delays in the granting of licences for the erection of houses and also the fact that a great many of these licences have been held up for six or nine months and that delay will increase the cost of houses. There is not the slightest doubt that all houses from now on will be increased in price and that is very largely due to the proposals in the last Budget. I have a letter here sent to one of the largest building contractors in Scotland. It is as follows:
§ "National Coal Board,
§ Scottish Division,
§ 135, Buchanan Street,
§ Glasgow C.1.
§ 8th May, 1950.
§ DEAR SIRS,
§ Road Transport Charges Increase
§ N.C.B. Bricks
§ We have been advised by the haulage contractors that their rates have been increased by 10 per cent. as from 1st May, 1950. We have therefore to intimate to you that our prices for bricks delivered from Blantyreferme, Gateside, Gartshore, Shotts and Barbauchlaw Brickworks will be increased accordingly."
§ Thus today, as a result of controls and delay in the granting of licences holding up the work, we are being confronted with this increased haulage charge of 10 per cent. on the price of bricks in connection with great schemes. Consequently houses will be dearer in future.
§ If that increase is made in the price of bricks by the nationalised Coal Board, it means that an increase will be added to every other material required for the building of houses in respect of its carriage from where it is produced to where the houses are being erected. I hope that the Secretary of State will do 682 his very best, as I am sure he will, subject to limitations and to the exercise of certain authority from elsewhere, in order to keep the price of houses down to the minimum, and that he will try to expedite the granting of these licences and the lifting of certain controls.
§ Due to the alteration of boundaries there has been included in my constituency a group of people who were huddled together in Nissen huts on what was formerly an anti-aircraft battery site. The place converges at one corner of my constituency upon the constituency known as Gorbals. There are 285 people huddled together in those huts. There are no roads, no water in any of these huts and they are served by several water taps, some at a considerable distance from the huts. There is no toilet accommodation, just one common place into which men go at one end and women at the other. There is no supervision or control of this place. It is a most shocking state of affairs for human beings to be in that I have ever come across. There is no lighting. When I visited the place in February the mud was six inches deep and there were pools of water everywhere. I repeat that these are the most deplorable housing conditions into which to put human beings that I have ever seen.
§ Mr. Henderson
Members opposite cannot blame Tory landlords for that. No Tory landlord or factor put those people there; it was the present Socialist Government, and they take from those people a weekly rent. That place is a disgrace to any Government. Where is the so-called interest of the Socialist Party in those poor individuals who have to occupy those huts in such shocking conditions? I hope that we shall hear less of this cant and humbug about the Tory Party being responsible for the slums in Glasgow and elsewhere when the grave state of affairs such as I have indicated lies at the door of the Government of this country during the past five years.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
I should have thought that in a Debate on Scottish housing the acid test would have been: By what means or methods can we 683 accelerate housing progress in Scotland. I naturally assumed that the Opposition, having initiated the Debate, would reveal to us what in their opinion should be done that is not being done by the Government, but up to the moment—and we have had almost six hours of debate—they have refused to reveal to us one constructive suggestion. When the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) was challenged, as he has been frequently challenged during this Debate, he simply indicated that it was a matter for the Government.
§ Commander Galbraith
May I correct the hon. Gentleman? I was challenged only on one point, in regard to what should be done with property that is falling into disrepair, and I answered that. If the hon. Gentleman had listened to my speech, he would know that I made several other suggestions about what should be done just now.
§ Mr. McInnes
I am still waiting for a single constructive suggestion that would result in the production of one more house. I cannot understand why an iron curtain has been drawn across the Tory policy on housing. The only proposal which has been put forward is that private enterprise should be given greater scope and greater opportunity. Surely the hon. and gallant Member is aware that the whole history of Scottish house building is an indictment of the lamentable failure of private enterprise to tackle the problem. The hon. and gallant Member quoted very extensively figures from the Westwood Report and other documents to indicate that private enterprise in Scotland had not produced the number of houses pro rata that private enterprise in England had produced. Is not that in itself a terrible indictment of private enterprise in Scotland?
If we analyse the figures, we find that in 25 years private enterprise in Scotland had an annual production of just over 4,000 houses, whereas in England the production was 120,000; in other words, 30 times more than in Scotland. If we further break it down, we find that private enterprise in England took only 10 months to do what private enterprise in Scotland has taken 25 years to do. If only private enterprise in Scotland had kept pace with the progress of local authorities, 684 we would have had 150,000 more houses. The attitude and approach of private enterprise is reflected in the Tory local authorities in Scotland. Even in the great city of Glasgow, about which the hon. and gallant Member knows so much, if we analyse the figures of the now Tory controlled council, we find that for the first four months of this year, despite the fact that they have 1,100 more building trade workers, they are actually producing 10 per cent. fewer houses.
When great claims are being made about private enterprise, may I say that many Government Commissions have indicated that in the post-war period a system of incentive payments is an imperative requirement if we are to step up output in the industry. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is aware that incentive payment schemes, with their financial results, have operated in England during the past two years. But in Scotland it was the Masters' Federation that stopped the introduction of incentive payments.
I wish to deal with the proposition that has been put so frequently from the benches opposite, because I am anxious to employ every agency and every instrument that will result in the production of more houses. It has frequently been asserted that private enterprise is ready and willing to build houses if given the opportunity. Since there is no unemployment in the building industry in Scotland, what type of work are these building firms engaged on today which they can leave to go on to housing work? I hope that the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) will deal with that point.
If private enterprise is given the opportunity of building an allocation of houses for sale, apart altogether from the fact that such an allocation would involve the question of ability to pay, I want to know what percentage of demand for that kind of housing there is in the whole of Scotland. Can the right hon. and gallant Member give any indication of the extent of such a demand? Would hon. Gentlemen opposite agree to a proposal which I want to put to the Secretary of State? I suggest that he should authorise local authorities to negotiate with all those private contractors who want to build houses for sale. If the houses are suitable, the right hon. Gentleman should give local authorities permission to pur- 685 chase them from the private firms. Will hon. Gentlemen opposite support a proposition of that kind?
There are two other suggestions I wish to make. It is immoral, in fact it is criminal, that in one year, 1949, in Scotland no less a sum than £17,500,000 was licensed for work of a non-housing character. Licences were issued to the extent of £230,000 for cinemas, £930,000 for hotels, public houses and restaurants, and £2,750,000 for banks and offices. We know that Scotland must have its hotels, public houses and restaurants if we are to attract tourists, but I hardly think that the 40,000 or 50,000 homeless families in Glasgow will rejoice in the knowledge that we are so considerate to our tourist traffic. I hoped that the Secretary of State would have considered housing of far greater importance than the fleeting visit to our country of a few thousand Americans. I hope that he will consider this question of the licences which are being issued by the Ministry of Works in Scotland.
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not mean to do me an injustice, but it is, I think, rather verging on the irresponsible to say that it is consideration for a few thousand American tourists that causes this decision. My hon. Friend knows, from his own experience, the high dollar component that there is in these building projects. We must, by every reasonable method, gain dollars.
§ Mr. McInnes
That may be, but I think we are losing all sense of proportion when we come to issue licences for the building of hotels and "pubs," because, quite candidly, if we made far better use of our existing resources, we could meet quite adequately the tourist traffic in Scotland.
It is a tragedy that the building force in Scotland has decreased to the extent of 10,000 in the last three years. I am satisfied that, if we were to get our due entitlement of the national resources in Scotland, these 10,000 building workers could quite easily be absorbed into the house-building programme. I am satisfied that the Scottish problem today is no less than one-fifth of the national problem. If that is not so, I await figures that will refute that statement, no matter from what source they may come. I hope the 686 Secretary of State will take steps to dispose of that fallacy that Scotland, so far as housing is concerned, is entitled to no more than about one-tenth of the national resources. I hope he will pursue that point with that vigour and sincerity which I know he possesses. If he does not do so, I can only indicate to him that there will come a day when Scotland will definitely rebel against housing conditions.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, East)
This is the first opportunity I have had of saying a few words in the new Parliament and I cannot say that I feel particularly maidenly tonight. [An HON. MEMBER: "You do not look it."] I do not feel like it, and may be I do not look like it. I want to confine myself to a few remarks in the space of 10 minutes, and if hon. Members opposite desire to interrupt me, that time will be lengthened; otherwise, I hope to be able to keep to that limit.
There are a few things I must say and a great many things I want to say. I come here, as many of us on this side are, refreshed by the confidence of the electorate. Some hon. Members are somewhat dispirited as the result of their contact with the electorate, but they are mostly represented on the other side. I want to tell the Committee that, so far as my constituency of East Renfrewshire is concerned, the people are horrified, indignant and disgusted at the way in which the Socialist Government have handled the housing problem in Scotland.
I do not think it is any use looking back on the past. We look forward to the future because we do not indict the present Secretary of State with regard to the past. The indictment about the past is overwhelming, and the situation is disastrous, horrifying and tragic in the extreme, and no words could possibly exaggerate it. It is repeated all over Scotland in the complete indignation of the people at the way in which the housing problem has been handled and the way in which broken promises have strewn the last five years. But we do not blame the Secretary of State; we look to him to put things-right.
We hope that he will not be shackled by the prejudice and class-conscious hatred of the Minister of Health in London. We hope that he will free himself 687 from these prejudices and strike out on his own for a Scottish policy for Scottish housing, and that he will not be dependent on all the venom, hatred and class-consciousness which characterise the Minister of Health, and also characterise his policy for housing in England and Wales. We know that he need not be dependent for his policy on venom and class-consciousness, because he has not got them himself, and we give him full credit for that fact.
Why, therefore, should he be in the least subservient to a policy which up to date has done so much harm? I beg him to free himself from it. In his speech, the right hon. Gentleman made a very strong point—which was supported by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Mclnnes)—of the fact that he welcomed constructive suggestions from this side. I welcomed his saying that. I was disappointed with the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central, because he said that no constructive suggestions had been made. Obviously, he could not have been listening very carefully, or else he had made up his speech beforehand and was determined to go through with it.
I wish to confine myself entirely to constructive suggestions; I want to respond to the Secretary of State's appeal for legitimate suggestions. It is for us to make constructive suggestions, we are told. We have made them on this problem for five years, but unfortunately none of them has been accepted by the other side. I will repeat them again, and I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central, will listen and make a note of them. They have been repeated over and over again, including tonight.
We on this side have repeatedly suggested that the local authorities should be taken into confidence. Why should that not be tried at least? The local authorities would like it and I believe that in his heart of hearts the right hon. Gentleman knows that to be true. Take them into your confidence, invite them to build. The other day I suggested that if the local authorities in Scotland were called by the Secretary of State to an assembly of local authorities in order to discuss this whole question with him in an impartial, non-political atmosphere—if that 688 is possible, and I do not see why it should not be—very constructive ideas would follow.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to frustrate the desire of the local authorities in Scotland to come and tell him what their problems are, what their grievances are, and what they think could be done about the future. They have a right to be consulted. They would make constructive suggestions; let them do so. The right hon. Gentleman should call a conference of the local authorities and let them say what they think of the policy of the past—even if it is very frank—and what they think ought to be done about the future. Some very useful results would, I am sure, accrue if only the Secretary of State—as I am sure he would—could come to such a conference free from prejudices and make it plain that it is not a political conference, but a conference determined to get on with housing in Scotland.
My next suggestion is that he should call a conference of the building industry in Scotland, especially the free industry—small people as well as big—and ask their advice. They would tell him some home truths which would do him good, and, incidentally, help the housing problem in Scotland. It is essential that the reports of such conferences should be published, and therefore that they should not be held in secret. It is also essential that the building industry in Scotland should be free. We have asked for this over and over again, but, of course, freedom is not part and parcel of Socialism. That is the trouble. We get "no forrarder."
Hon. Members opposite say that we make no constructive suggestions, but when we say free the building industry they will not do it. If we freed the building industry in Scotland, the housing problem would be well on its way to solution, but that is something which you will not do because of your silly political prejudices. Do away with the foolish bulk purchase of supplies.
§ Major Lloyd
Knowing and sharing your political prejudices, Sir, I would not for a moment call them in question, neither did I do so. It is absolutely essential that these political prejudices and theories of hon. Members opposite should be abolished with regard to the housing problem. Apart altogether from the prejudices I have mentioned, why do we not do away with the silly idea of bulk purchase of all our raw materials for building? It is purely Socialist theory; it is impracticable; it has failed in every direction.
The constructive suggestion which we have repeated and which the Government will not accept, is that we should abolish this silly idea of bulk purchase of raw materials. We should free industry and allow those who buy the raw materials for building houses to buy where they want to buy. They will buy cheaper, the whole cost of house building will be reduced and very great advantages will be obtained in every possible respect. Hon. Members opposite will not listen to our point of view because of their silly social prejudices.
They will not listen to us on the subject of maintenance, which is very important. There are many hundreds of thousands of houses in the major cities of Scotland which are falling into grave disrepair, again because of the silly political prejudices of hon. Members opposite. They will not, or dare not because they have not the moral courage, do anything about the recommendations made with regard to the effect of the combination of the Rent Restriction Act with the Scottish rating system. They will not do anything about the grave injustice at present inflicted upon owners of small rented property who have not the money for repairs because of the effect of that Act and the rating system working together.
There is the Sorn Report and many other reports and the expressed views of Mr. Tom Johnston, whom we all enormously respect. He has expressed the greatest dissent from the present situation—the scandalous situation—of much property in Glasgow because of the combination of these things. The Sorn Report and other reports have made definite recommendations. Why will not Members opposite have the courage to do something? They have not the courage, and they are full of political prejudice. Much property in Glasgow and elsewhere is 690 falling into the gravest disrepair and the whole housing problem in Scotland is affected by the silly political prejudices of hon. Members opposite. Let the Government abolish politics and prejudices and do something for the people of Scotland, for heaven's sake. If they do not, then indeed they will go right out at the next election.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mrs. Cullen (Glasgow, Gorbals)
We have listened to what I regard as a very silly speech. I have not very much time to speak, because I understand we must finish at 9.10. I have sat here since 3.30 trying to get in on the Debate not only because it was a Scottish Debate but because I felt that no Debate on Scottish housing could be complete without bringing the Gorbals into it. I want to deal mainly with what I said 18 months ago in my maiden speech. I then revealed to the House the terrible conditions in which my constituents were living. I pleaded with the House to-clear some of these slums and put up blocks of flats. That has been referred to by the hon. Member for Woodside (Mr. Bennett) tonight, but the Gorbals has had nothing done for it.
I want to deal with one aspect—that is the rat infestation in the Gorbals. It has reached a stage where it is beyond talking about. The Ministry of Agriculture have sent rat catchers but they are of no avail. The rats are there in their thousands. The only means of clearing the rats in the Gorbals would be to have another Pied Piper. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) referred to cases in his constituency. I could spend hours telling him of cases in my constituency. I will give only two, and then I will finish because of the lateness of the hour.
In one house in the Gorbals between December and February 19 rats were caught. The children were being bitten in their sleep by rats. Because of rat infestation people are having to sit up at night and keep a vigil to allow the people who have got to go to work to get a little sleep. That is what is going on in the Gorbals That did not happen in five, 10 or 15 years. I have here a Press cutting relating to one of our reverend fathers in the Gorbals constituency who, speaking before a housing commission in 1903, referred to the 691 horrible conditions in the Gorbals. That was 47 years ago, and these conditions still exist.
It has been said here today that when materials were cheap and plentiful and unemployment was rife, the slums in the Gorbals should have been cleared, but that nothing was done. Hon. Members opposite may condemn the Labour Government, but I am very proud of the Labour Government for what they have done for housing throughout Scotland. Nothing however has been done in the Gorbals, and whether we build a block of flats or not, I appeal to the Secretary of State to co-operate with the local authorities and try to clear these slums from the Gorbals. We in Glasgow want a festival; we want a festival of slum clearance.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Macdonald (Roxburgh and Selkirk)
I know that it is necessary to be very brief so I shall try to confine my remarks to a few minutes. They will be firstly critical and then, I hope, constructive. I have listened with amazement to some of the statements made by hon. Members of the Conservative Opposition about the housing situation. One would imagine from what they have said that they had in no way been responsible for it. We, the Liberal Party, must bear our share of responsibility for the terrible housing conditions in this country at the beginning of the century, when apparently we did little or nothing to right those wrongs. But listening to some of the Members of the Conservative Party one would imagine that in the intervening years they had done everything to put those things right. They have not.
In the years 1925–1934, 179,000 houses were built in Scotland as againstl,990,000 houses in England and Wales. Scotland has approximately one-tenth of the population of this country, and therefore in fairness alone we should have had in Scotland one-tenth of the houses built throughout the United Kingdom. But we have had far less than that in all these years. In the years 1935 to 1938 inclusive, Scotland had 97,000 houses as compared with England and Wales who had 1,338,000. In 1939 Scotland had 25,500 as against England and Wales with 332,500. We shall find that in not one 692 of those years did Scotland have anything like the quantity to which she was entitled, even on the basis of one-tenth. Indeed, she required more than that in order to make up for all those years before the war, down to the beginning of the century, during which her housing situation had been allowed to deteriorate so badly.
I must say that I am not satisfied with the Socialist Government's housing programme, but it is infinitely better than that of many of the years before the war when there was a Conservative Government. For example, in 1946 the figures were 16,432 in Scotland and 122,000 in England and Wales—and there we see that we are getting more than our one-tenth. In 1947 it was 24,193 against 162,000 for England and Wales and in 1948 it was 29,000 against 217,000. Those figures, although far from satisfactory, are infinitely better than the figures during the period of Conservative Government before the war.
§ Commander Galbraith
Does the hon. Member know the number of temporary houses included in the figures he has just quoted?
§ Mr. Macdonald
Yes, but those temporary houses mean some form of habitation for people. I have found many happy people in some of those temporary houses.
§ Miss Horsbrugh (Manchester, Moss Side)
Does the hon. Member not agree that all such planning, up to the aluminium houses, was done under the National Government? The sites were chosen and road arrangements made before the National Government went out of office.
§ Mr. Macdonald
I would remind the right hon. Lady that although the Coalition Government may have done a good deal of the designing of these houses, it is on performance that we must judge and on the performance before the war by comparison with the performance since the war. I ask the Opposition to realise that I am not satisfied with the present situation. I know the terrible situation which exists in Scotland's housing. We must, however, be fair and having, as Liberals, taken our share of the blame, we must also give credit when things have improved.
693 I will not develop this point further, for I dealt with it at length in my maiden speech, but we believe that eventually the only way we can settle the housing problem in Scotland is by self-government in Scotland. I think this is one of the many problems which Scotland will settle only in that way. Let us take things as they are, however. I understand from the Secretary of State that we now have sufficient material. He did not say there was adequate or abundant material, but that there was sufficient building material.
What is holding up the development of housing schemes and a greater volume of house building? Is it labour? If it is labour and if our labour force is fully employed, is that labour doing sufficient within the hours it works? I believe it can do much more through a well thought-out incentive scheme, such as has been tried with great success in England—and I believe even that scheme could be improved. If we find that our labour force is working to full capacity, why not adopt a system of bringing the displaced people of Europe to this country? There must be some who have been house builders in Europe—and Europe used to build extremely good houses before the war. These men could be re-trained and used to increase our labour force.
§ Mr. Macdonald
They could be housed temporarily in camps until we had housing for them, in turn.
I believe we must also recognise that in Scotland we have been a little too ready to condemn houses. In my constituency, for instance, there are many houses which the county councils have condemned, and some are sufficiently modern in the sense that they have water closets just outside the back door. Yet these houses—and I have been in them—which seem to be quite weather-proof and quite snug and warm, are condemned because they happen to be old. They are very suitable habitations. I find many county councils seem to be ready to condemn houses instead of repairing them or allowing people to buy them so that they could themselves repair the houses up to the standards they require.
In every housing scheme I want to see some provision for the old people, and 694 there has been a lamentable lack of that so far. This is not a luxury we are asking for, that some of the old people should have special facilities built for them in the housing schemes. As my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said earlier today, surely we can have some variety of design in these houses without increasing the cost. While we are very glad to see every new house built, it is rather depressing to see them all of the same or very similar design. I am sure that if prizes were offered for designs they would bring out the best talent in the country, to contribute new designs and ideas for the housing estates, and we could make them then "things of beauty and a joy for ever." I have been across to the Channel Islands recently on a business trip, and I was taken over some of their housing schemes. They have made them delightful places, and have fitted them right into the landscape, and in each one there is always a section for the old people; they have done it all at very low cost for them and the Channel Islands, comparatively speaking, are a very wealthy area.
I do feel as another hon. Member said, that we are too ready to cut down trees and too slow in planting them. The cost of tree planting on some of our housing estates is very small indeed, comparatively speaking; but what a difference it would make to a whole batch of prefabricated houses to have a few trees planted around them, to have grass borders along the streets, and so on. The children would love them, and they would have a beneficial influence so that the children would not, as in some cases they do, treat their temporary homes as another type of slum. In one or two villages in my very scattered constituency they have made their prefabricated houses beautiful places, with terraced gardens; they have furnished them beautifully, and very tastefully, and I am quite sure that any of those people, if they were asked to move into more substantial houses, would feel quite a lot of regret in leaving them.
As time is short I conclude, by saying that, in view of the fact that it is not the policy of the Socialist Government, at any rate at the present time, to give Scotland self-government, the right hon. Gentleman should appoint another Under-Secretary whose sole duty 695 it would be to look after the housing problem of Scotland, as the central authority to whom local authorities and others could go to get quick decisions, so that things could be dealt with more speedily. If we cannot get an improvement—and I have given the Government credit for the improvements they have made—if we cannot get more improvements, then the result will be that many of our young married couples, some of the best types of Scot we have, will be forced to migrate from our country. They will have no hope or inducement to remain, with overcrowded conditions so severe that they will be faced with chronic ill-health and possibly a life-time of disillusionment and unhappiness. I ask the Secretary of State to do what he has the power to do, or what the Government have the power to do, and that is to appoint another Under-Secretary for Scotland on housing matters only. I believe that such a man could put a kick into the housing effort in Scotland for our fellow Scots.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
All sections of the Committee, I have no doubt, listened with respect to the lecture to which they have been treated by the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Macdonald). We are very grateful to him for putting us all right. It is also very interesting to note that he claimed some of the blame for his party. He did not claim it all, or enough. He should have remembered that in the period from 1900 to 1905 the annual housing rate in Scotland was 14,800. When the Liberal Government came in, from 1905 to 1910 they got it down to 9,800. When they returned in 1910, from 1910 to 1915 they got it down to an all-time low of 4,200, and that is the reason—one of the reasons—for the problem we are suffering from now. It is quite true that people are willing to make eloquent speeches about housing, but when it comes to a vote on housing, as on the last occasion we discussed the subject—when we sought the restoration of the cut which had been proposed—the hon. Member and his party voted against it.
§ Mr. Macdonald
We were left with the choice of getting rid of a Government 696 whose housing policy we are not satisfied with or putting in a party whose housing record is, in our opinion, worse.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The hon. Gentle-man does himself too much honour. He could not have defeated the Government on that night. He could, however, have registered a protest against a cut in housing, which he and his hon. Friends did not. Instead they voted enthusiastically for the cut in housing which subsequently was restored by the Government which they were so ready to support in making the cut.
§ Mr. Grimond
We did not vote for it at all. We voted on an Admendment to the Gracious Speech. It had nothing whatever to do with the cut in housing.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The hon Gentleman does himself an injustice. He and his hon. Friends voted against an Amendment protesting at the cut in housing. Orkney, Shetland, Roxburgh and Selkirk will not forget that.
To night the Committee is not happy in the situation in which it finds itself. Admittely no part of the Committee likes the housing situation in which we are now placed. The hon. Lady the Member for Gorbals (Mrs. Cullen) spoke of the infestation which is a feature of the Gorbals. Indeed, it is also a feature of Anderston, and shows how right it was for Sir Godfrey Collins to tell the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) to concentrate on slum clearance in Glasgow—which heaven knows, is badly needed. We have all got masses of cases of which we could tell the Committee of. I have here the case of a petty officer who had fought in an action which the Secretary of State will know well—the terrible action running the convoy through to Murmansk, when half the convoy was sunk. That petty officer is back in this country living with his family in a room infested with snails, and all that can be suggested by the sanitary authority is to put down salt to keep them from crawling across his furniture at night.
In those circumstances nobody here can be satisfied, and nobody is satisfied, with the allocation of the housing programme, which is fundamentally the difficulty in which we all are tonight. After all, within those limits there is not enough that can 697 be done, and within those limits everyone is bound to find troubles and difficulties such as have been recounted from all parts of the Committee this evening, and for which various remedies have been put forward.
There was the question of high costs. The right hon. Gentleman himself gave an example only yesterday at Question Time of the way in which costs had risen. Costs of a typical house had, he said, gone up from £1,281 in 1948 to £1,420 in 1949. I hold in my hand the circular from his office on the financial provisions of the Act, which says, in reviewing the subsidy:There are some grounds for believing that the tender prices, which have recently shown signs of steadying, will tend to decline. The prices of certain materials have already fallen, and there are signs of increasing productivity in the building industry.It shows howThe best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gleywhen after that review, with that optimistic forecast, we hear the Secretary of State himself stating that the costs have gone up from £1,281 to £1,420 against the trend which was then discovered. The Government are not entirely blameless in that. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Major Lloyd) spoke of the difficulties and evils which were caused by bulk purchase. The Civil Estimates for 1949–50 showed that the Government had profiteered to the extent of £9,151,000 on timber alone. It is not only the difficulty in buying, but the fact that the Government use this as a means of recouping themselves that adds to the eventual cost of housing.
We have, undoubtedly, the problems which the right hon. Gentleman put before us in a series of questions. He asked, first of all, from what sector would we draw resources, manpower or material, if we wished to enlarge the housing programme in Scotland. Surely, the first thing is to restore it to what the Government themselves were building only two years ago. What is the justification, with the desperate state of housing in Scotland, for a cut of some 3,000 houses a year, [interruption.] The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk himself stated that owing to the temporary housing many happy people existed. I am not under-estimating the importance of the temporaries. I am saying that taking in 698 the temporaries there is a cut of 3,000 houses a year in Scotland. That should not be in the conditions described this evening. It is a thing which we simply cannot endure.
As to manpower, the Minister of Works gave the figures on Monday. In March, 1948, there were approximately 66,000 people engaged on housing work in Scotland, and in March, 1950, the figure was 56,000, a cut of 10,000 men in a year. He explained that away by saying that it was due to the run-off of temporary houses; but with the housing conditions in Scotland, how can any Government allow a run-off of any kind of housing? If the right hon. Gentleman asks me from where we are to get the manpower, I reply, "Where did the Government get the manpower from in 1948?" He cannot say that the country was being ruined in 1948 by the amount of manpower that was being used for housing. The Minister of Works says that there is no shortage of material. He even said that there was no shortage of labour. That differs very greatly from the complaints that I hear in Edinburgh and elsewhere. We are asked where we would get it? In the first place, we would get it from where we got it in 1948, and, secondly, from the restoration of the housing output per man to what it was in 1938. These are not impossible tasks, and they do not demand an increase of the labour force. They demand a more rational utilisation of the labour force which is in being, and which certainly could be done.
I have deliberately restricted my remarks to the shortest possible time because so many hon. Members have wished to speak, since it is most desirable that, so far as possible, representatives from the whole of Scotland should be heard here tonight. We have had most interesting maiden speeches from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Clyde), and from my hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for Woodside (Mr. Bennett). We have had a characteristic speech from the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann), who spent a happy 21 minutes attacking everyone in sight, including the hon. Member for Midlothian who signed the Sorn Report, and Mr. James Welsh, ex-provost of Glasgow, who also signed the Sorn Report.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Oh, no. The hon. Lady cannot have seen the Sorn Report recently. While one member made certain reservations, the other did not.
§ Mrs. Mann rose——
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The hon. Lady did not give way. I have given way once to the hon. Lady, who gave place to no one from this side when she was speaking. It is not difficult to dispose of the hon. Lady.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I certainly got no such information. It was the right bon. Member the former High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland the right hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Mathers) who signed the Report.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
In that case, I apologise to the former High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland and to the hon. Member. As for the hon. Lady, her speech will bring dismay to many people in Airdrie, where there are 2,058 people on the waiting list and an allocation of houses of 110. In Coatbridge, the number on the waiting list is 5,153 and the allocation of houses 216. Therefore, there will be 7,100 very unhappy people when they see her speech.
§ Mrs. Mann rose——
§ The Deputy-Chairman
When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does not give way, Members must not stand up.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
To those who give way I am only too willing to give way myself, but the hon. Lady tonight refused to give way when she was making her speech.
§ Mrs. Mann rose——700
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Those who refuse courtesy have no right to demand it. I will pass from the hon. Lady and will not castigate her any further.
I say that the Committee is deeply disquietened by the position as sketched by the Secretary of State. His second question was: Are we sure that the labour force is being used to the greatest advantage? I do not think it is, and I have given examples which show that conclusively. His third question was: Are the local authorities and the central authority in the closest and most sympathetic touch? He said that he was doing his best to bring them into the closest touch, but, with the allocations remaining as they are, all the sympathy in the world will not solve the problem the local authorities have to solve, or lead to sympathetic relations with the central authority. His last point was whether there would be a change of policy, to which he said "No." He said he thought we should work up to 27,500 houses in 1951. That means a three-year freeze, and even then we do not get to the figure his predecessor was building in 1948.
With these conditions, no one can be happy or satisfied with the position as sketched out. We have, of course, every intention of moving a reduction in the Vote. I have done my best to compress my remarks, indeed, I have over-compressed them. All I can say is that the position is not being accepted by the people of Scotland. On this policy the party opposite have lost Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Furthermore, in this last year more people migrated from Scotland than in the nine years before. That is indeed a vote of no confidence, when they lose all the great cities of Scotland and have a bigger emigration from Scotland than that of the last nine years. The Committee will not take "No" for an answer. For that reason, I have the greatest pleasure in moving,That Item Class I, Vote 26, Scottish Home Department, be reduced by £5.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)
The historical accuracy of the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) must have been affected somewhat adversely by the lovers, quarrel to which we were all treated at 701 the beginning of his speech. We cannot recall the date or the occasion on which the Socialists lost control of Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Fraser
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to do little more than to say that the Opposition were not satisfied with housing progress in recent years. If he made a constructive proposal in the course of his speech it was that we should resume the temporary housing programme.
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes, but we have often listened to hon. Members on that side of the House referring to the temporary houses as if they ought not to be included at all in the new housing accommodation that has been provided in Scotland since the end of the war. A little earlier his noble Friend the Member for Inverness (Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton) seemed to be asking not only for a resumption of the temporary housing programme but for the building of temporary houses of a much inferior standard to the existing temporary houses. If that would not prolong the solution of this housing problem I do not know what would.
§ Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton
The suggestion I made was simply to overcome the urgent and pressing need of 80,000 people who want houses and have no hope of getting houses for many years.
§ Mr. Fraser
The noble Lord says that the proposition he put forward was that we should provide temporary accommodation for the homeless people who are living in the country districts of Scotland.
§ Mr. Fraser
If it is not only in the country districts then it is for the whole of Scotland. We do not know how many people there are without homes in Scotland, but there are many thousands. Nobody believes that we could provide "motel" accommodation for all those people. It would mean that people would be taken from the building of houses in order to provide this very temporary accommodation.
702 However, what I could not understand was the insistence of the Opposition that we should follow slavishly in the footsteps of the Minister of Health and that we ought to adopt exactly the same policy in housing as that adopted for England and Wales—except the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew, East (Major Lloyd), who described the Minister of Health in words that I would not care to repeat. He asked my right hon. Friend not to follow the lead of the Minister of Health. What does the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove think? Does he want my right hon. Friend to follow in the footsteps of the Minister of Health, as has been requested by so many other hon. Gentlemen opposite and to pursue the same housing policy?
We do not know yet whether the Opposition want merely to have in Scotland the housing policy that has been given effect to in England, or not. We have been asked several times in the course of the Debate, "Why can't we in Scotland have one in five for private enterprise as they have in England and Wales? "[An HON. MEMBER:" It was only last week."] It was this afternoon and this evening that hon. Members were asking for it. The question was asked over and over again, "Why can't we in Scotland have the same allocation to private enterprise as has been given in England and Wales?" That is completely leaving out of account the difference in the housing problem in the two countries. They have been telling us in one breath that the housing problem in Scotland was so much more serious than in England and Wales and, in the next breath, that we must tackle it in exactly the same way. There was a time when it was being tackled in exactly the same way, but, I am afraid, far less successfully.
I wish the Opposition had taken the opportunity today of telling the people of Scotland—not only this Committee—what kind of housing policy they would pursue. Would they control house building at all, or would they take the lid off and give discretion to local authorities to build for letting, or give to the private builder the opportunity of building on private account within some global limit? They have never told us that and we and the people of Scotland have a right to know what policy they are after. It is not good 703 enough to say that they do not agree with the policy of His Majesty's Government and think it ought to be changed.
We have also been told that there are authorities in Scotland with a varying degree of need for the building of houses for private ownership, for owner-occupation. I wonder whether Edinburgh, for instance, is regarded as one of the towns, or cities, of Scotland where there is a greater need for the building of houses to private account? If that is said, if that is asserted, I would refer hon. Members to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) when he referred to a survey made by Edinburgh Corporation by which it was found that out of 26,000 people consulted, less than 5 per cent. said they were able or willing to buy a house of their own.
Are we to satisfy the needs of those people by giving to Edinburgh Corporation an opportunity of having more houses built to private account in their area than elsewhere, or should we leave it to the discretion of local authorities, which is what hon. Members opposite seem to suggest? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, in Edinburgh before the war, for every house built for letting there were three built for sale. Was that satisfying the needs of Edinburgh? If that were to happen today, what would be the hopes of those 26,000 people who were consulted by the Corporation of Edinburgh quite recently?
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison
May I point out that it has so far satisfied the people of Edinburgh that they turned out 11 Socialists in the last election and in this election every Progressive candidate increased his majority?
§ Mr. Fraser
We are not so very sure that the election in Edinburgh quite recently was fought on the housing policy of this Government, or any other Government. There were many other matters—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I thought hon. Members opposite did not allow party politics to be brought into local elections at all. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) said there were building contractors in Scotland who were anxious and willing to build houses but they were not being permitted to do so just now, and hon. Members opposite asked why 704 we did not set aside an area in a city, in a local authority area, and allow the private builder to build there and see how we got on——
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes, I read in the Press the other day that the convener of the Glasgow Housing Committee said there were schemes already prepared by private builders to put up completely modern houses "at prices which would amaze you." There are tens of thousands of people in Glasgow waiting for these houses to be put up at prices that would amaze us. It seems to me that the convener of the Glasgow Housing Committee and his colleagues who sit on the other side of the House are perfectly free to employ those building contractors to build houses for the people of Glasgow who are in most need of houses. Why do they not do it? I would say that those people, including hon. Gentlemen opposite, are lacking in civic responsibility if they allow those building contractors with resources, who can build houses at prices that would amaze us, to stand idle. They ought to have them brought into the house building programme to give us the benefit of their efforts.
§ Mr. Maclay (Renfrew, West) rose——
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Member cannot come into the Chamber at a quarter to ten, not having been in all day, and begin interrupting. The position is surely that we have no reason to believe that any of those building contractors referred to will take building trade workers off work other than housing work—off the repair of banks, offices and shops—to put them on to house building.
§ Mr. Fraser
Because we have had experience since the war, as before the war, that that sort of work is always more remunerative than new building. In the circumstances, we can only assume that those building contractors who would build these new homes for people who could afford them at prices that would amaze us could only do so by taking away labour from the building of houses for people who most need them. There can be no other assumption one can make——
§ Mr. Fraser
My hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) called attention to the fact, by displaying a copy of a newspaper, that there are still opportunities for those who can afford it to buy houses. Hon. Members opposite say of course that those columns of advertisements of houses for sale in the newspapers are evidence for the great demand for houses. But they are also evidence that there are still opportunities for those who can afford to own their own houses, and who do not come within the categories, chosen by my right hon. Friend, for the issue of licences. One never sees in any newspaper nowadays any advertisements of unfurnished houses to let because such houses are controlled. The other houses which are advertised are not controlled, and hon. Members opposite do not like controls.
My right hon. Friend is not so hidebound as hon. Gentlemen opposite. His mind is not so full of prejudice as theirs are. He has recently made a relaxation by approving the inclusion within the categories of persons to whom licences are granted of the schoolmasters, the doctors and the nurses to whom reference has been made. All those people are now included, as are many others, in the categories to whom my right hon. Friend is prepared to issue licences. He has said, "Let us give this relaxation a fair trial, and if in the light of experience it seems desirable to make further relaxations we will make them." Hon. Members opposite are not prepared to proceed in that fashion. They say, "Let us wipe out all these controls and set the builders free."
We have been asked several times today to look at the figures of house completions since the war by local authorities of some 30 or more years' experience of house building, and to compare them with the rate of building immediately before the war. The fact is that we are fully utilising our resources at the present time inasmuch as—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the unemployed?"]—there is no unemployed building labour in Scotland at the present time. If we can get more houses from our existing labour force by the granting of incentives, or by any other system, then of course we are anxious to encourage that system. My right hon. Friend said that we were doing our utmost 706 to encourage the adoption of incentive schemes. That is about the only way, it seems to me, that we can expect to get more houses built in Scotland at the present time. It is not becoming for any hon. Member in any part of the Committee to tell us that we must put more people into house building without telling us where the people are to be taken from——
§ Mr. Fraser
We also had our attention called many times today to the greater needs of Scotland. Many hon. Members said that the housing needs of Scotland are vastly greater than the needs of England. But that cannot be attributed to my right hon. Friend or to the Government of the day. We did not create those greater needs. The greater needs were not even created by the war. We were the only country in Western Europe involved in the war which came out of that war with more houses than we had at the beginning. But at the end of the war we were still told that we needed 500,000 houses in Scotland. Surely that is due to the great neglect of Scottish housing before the war.
§ Mr. Fraser
We have been told we really ought to get a higher proportion of houses built in this country. If we look at the figures for last year we find that Scotland built 15 per cent. of the number of houses built in England and Wales. The population of Scotland is 11.8 per cent. of that of England and Wales so that there is no question of allocating between England and Wales and Scotland on a population basis.
The fact is that we do try our utmost to get the houses where they are needed. We do have regard to the needs. But were needs regarded in the same way before the war? I find that in the years before the war we in Scotland got about one house to every 13 in England and 707 Wales. The hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) was complaining that we were getting only one to six and a half compared with England and Wales; but before the war we were getting only one to 13. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove had the honour and privilege of being Secretary of State for Scotland during the period when we were getting one house in Scotland to every 13 built in England and Wales; and incidentally, when he left the Scottish Office and became Minister of Health, there was no change.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
We must realise of course that the subsidy house in both cases was a very different matter. The hon. Member is comparing subsidised and unsubsidised houses in England with subsidised houses in Scotland.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am talking of the houses built in the two countries. I am trying to show that hon. Gentlemen opposite, in calling attention to the greater needs of Scotland and asking for Scotland to get more than one house for every six and a half built in England and Wales, might have in mind how many houses Scotland got in proportion to England and Wales when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was in office. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok thought that he had better remind the Committee earlier this afternoon, that after the minority Labour Government took office in 1929 the rate of house building went down in 1930 by some 2,000.
§ Mr. Fraser
He will be interested to know that when his right hon. and gallant Friend took over the Scottish Office, production went down from 23,800 in 1936 to 21,500 in 1937.
§ Mr. Fraser
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman says that it went up after that. That is true. That was after he had left the Scottish Office.
§ Mr. Fraser
If planning was responsible, if it was the right hon. and gallant 708 Gentleman's planning that got the figure increased in 1938 and 1939, then, of course, it must have been the bad planning in 1928 and 1929 that was responsible for the small production of houses in 1930 and 1931. In point of fact, he was not responsible for the fall. Just as it would have been impossible for my right hon. Friend, or any other Secretary of State, to have got more houses in Scotland since 1945, it would have been impossible for the Labour Government in 1930 and 1931 to have got more houses than the local authorities built at that time.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hill-head, said that we got more houses before the war. He said that we only got house production geared up in Scotland when the housing subsidies were reduced. I wonder whether he was suggesting to us that we should get more houses produced now if we were to reduce the housing subsidies.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith rose——
§ Mr. Fraser
No, I will not give way. I think that I correctly quoted the hon. Gentleman. He said that it was only in the late thirties, when housing subsidies were reduced, that we got house construction geared up in the way we did, and got house costs down. I ask him to let us know at some future date whether he thinks that if we reduced the subsidies now we should bring down the costs of houses.
He and other hon. Gentlemen opposite, once again, called attention to the way in which the property owners in the West of Scotland have been treated. He said that they had been shabbily treated. The hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew, East (Major Lloyd) is always much more forthcoming than his hon. Friend. He told us clearly what he is after. He wants a removal of rent control. He wants the rate burden on the owners to be removed. He wants a heavier financial burden imposed upon the tenants. He is quite honest with me. But when the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok and the hon. Member for Hillhead were challenged, earlier in the day, when they called attention to the plight of these property owners, and they were asked whether they had any suggestions to offer, they said, "No, that is a matter for the Government." They remind us 709 once again of the Leader of the Opposition who said, "We must not tell the House of Commons what our policy is otherwise the Government will use it for electoral purposes." Of course, we should.
The fact is that hon. Gentlemen opposite have been unable as well as unwilling to show any way out of our immediate difficulty or to make any
§ positive proposals or any constructive suggestions. When they say that we should meet the local authorities and the contractors, they will be interested to know that we are doing it from month to month.
§ Question put, "That Item Vote 26, Class I, be reduced by £5."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 252; Noes, 280.713
|Division No. 13.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m|
|Aitken, W. T.||Drewe, C.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir J (Richmond)||Lennox-Boyd, A T|
|Amory, D Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Linstead, H. N|
|Arbuthnot, J. S.||Dunglass, Lord||Llewellyn, D.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Duthie, W. S.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Astor, Hon. M||Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Baker, P.||Fisher, N. T. L.||Longden, G. J. M. (Herts S. W.)|
|Baldock, J. M.||Fletcher, W (Bury)||Low, A. R. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Fort, R||Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth. S)|
|Banks, Col C||Foster, J. G.||Lucas, P. B (Brentford)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Fraser, Sir L. (Lonsdale)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O|
|Bell, R. M. (S. Buckinghamshire)||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||McAdden, S. J|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||McCallum, Maj. D.|
|Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Gammans, L. D.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Bennett, W. C. (Woodside)||Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)|
|Birch, Nigel||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Macdonald, Sir P (I. of Wight)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||McKibbin, A.|
|Black, C. W.||Gridley, Sir A||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col D C. (Wells)||Grimond, J.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Boothby, R.||Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Maclean, F. H. R.|
|Bossom, A. C||Grimston, R. V (Westbury)||MacLeod, L. (Enfield, W.)|
|Bowen, R||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||MacLeod, J. (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Bower, N.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V (Macclesfield)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Harvey, I. (Harrow, E.)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Braine, B.||Hay, John||Manningham-Buller, R. E|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J G||Head, Brig. A. H.||Marlowe, A. A. H|
|Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt Hon Sir C||Marples, A. E.|
|Browne, J. N (Govan)||Heald, L. F.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Heath, Colonel E. G. R||Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maude, J. C. (Exeter)|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W||Maudling, R.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Medlicott, Brigadier. F|
|Butler, Rt. Hon R. A (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Carr, L. R. (Mitcham)||Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morrison, Maj. J G. (Salisbury)|
|Channon, H.||Hirst, G. A. N||Morrison, Rt. Hon W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S||Hogg, Hon. Q||Nabarro, G.|
|Clarke, Col R. S. (East Grinstead)||Hollis, M. C||Nicholls, H.|
|Clarke, Brig T. H. (Portsmouth, W)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Nicholson, G.|
|Clyde, J. L.||Hope, Lord J||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Colegate, A.||Hopkinson, H.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Conant, Maj R. J. E||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nutting, Anthony|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Howard, G R. (St Ives)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Howard, S. G. (Cambridgeshire)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon W. D|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hudson, Sir A. U. M. (Lewisham, N.)||Osborne, C|
|Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Perkins, W. R. D|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Peto, Brig. C. H M|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hurd, A. R.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Crowder, F. P. (Ruislip, N'thwood)||Hutchinson G (Ilford, N.)||Prescott, Stanley|
|Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (F'chley)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh, W)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Cundiff, F. W.||Hyde, H. M.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Profumo, J. D.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Rayner, Brig, R|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon L W||Redmayne, M.|
|de Chair, S.||Kaberry, D||Remnant, Hon. P|
|De la Bère, R||Keeling, E. H||Ronton, D. L. M.|
|Deedes, W. F||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Roberts, P. G. (Heeley)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Robertson, Sir O. (Caithness)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Lambert, Hon. G||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lancaster, Col. C G||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M||Langford-Holt, J.||Rodgers, J. (Sevenoaks)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K||Roper, Sir H.|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)|
|Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Stuart, Rt. Hon J. (Moray)||Walker-Smith, D. C|
|Russell, R. S.||Summers, G. S.||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D||Sutcliffe, H.||Ward, Miss L. (Tynemouth)|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Waterhouse, Capt. C|
|Savory, Prof. D. L||Taylor, W. J (Bradford, N.)||Watkinson, H.|
|Scott, Donald||Teeling, William||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Webbe, Sir H (London)|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Tilney, J. D.||Wills, G.|
|Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Touche, G. C.||Wilson, G. (Truro)|
|Spence, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)||Turton, R. H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Stevens, G. P.||Vane, W. M. F.||York, C.|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Vosper, D. F||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Storey, S.||Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire)||Sir Arthur Young and|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hubbard, T|
|Adams, Richard||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Deer, G.||Hughes, R. M. (Islington, N.)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Delargy, H. J||Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Diamond, J||Irvine, A. J (Edge Hill)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dodds, N. N.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Donnelly, D||Isaacs, Rt. Hon G A.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Donovan, T. N||Janner, B.|
|Baird, J.||Driberg, T. E. N||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Balfour, A.||Dye, S.||Jeger, G. (Goole)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J C.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Bartley, P||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jenkins, R. H.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Johnson, J. (Rugby)|
|Benson, G.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Jones, D. T (Hartlepool)|
|Bing, G H. C.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Ewart, R.||Keenan, W|
|Blyton, W. R.||Fernyhough, E.||Kenyon, C|
|Boardman, H.||Field, Capt. W. J.||King, H. M.|
|Booth, A.||Finch, H. J.||Kinley, J.|
|Bottomley, A. G||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lang, Rev. G|
|Bowden, H. W.||Follick, M.||Lee, F. (Newton)|
|Bowles, F. C. (Nuneaton)||Foot, M. M||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Forman, J. C.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Freeman, J. (Watford)||Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)|
|Brooks, T J. (Normanton)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Lipton, Lt.-Col M|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Gibson, C. W.||Logan, D. G|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gilzean, A.||Longden, F. (Small Heath)|
|Burke, W. A.||Glanville, J E. (Consett)||McAllister, G.|
|Burton, Miss E.||Gooch, E. G.||MacColl, J. E|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MaGovern, J.|
|Callaghan, James||Greenwood, A W. J. (Rossendale)||McInnes, J.|
|Carmichael, James||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Mack, J. D.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Grey, C. F.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Champion, A. J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||McLeavy, F.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Clunie, J.||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Gunter, R. J.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hale, J. (Rochdale)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Collick, P.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)|
|Collindridge, F.||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Cook, T. F.||Hail. Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Come Valley)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Hamilton, W. W.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A|
|Cooper, J. (Deprfond)||Hardman, D. R.||Mathers, Rt. Hon George|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||Hardy, E. A.||Messer, F.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hargreaves, A||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Harrison, J.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Hayman, F. H.||Moeran, E. W|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley R.)||Monslow, W.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Moody, A. S.|
|Daines, P.||Hewitson, Capt. M||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Holman, P||Morley, R.|
|Darling, G. (Hillsboro')||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Davies, Edward (Stoke, N.)||Houghton, Douglas||Mort, D. L.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hoy, J.||Moyle, A|
|Mulley, F. W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Murray, J. D.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Nally, W.||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Neal, H.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Walkins, T. E.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|O'Brien, T.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Orbach, M.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Padley, W. E.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||West, D. G.|
|Paget, R. T.||Simmons, C. J.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Paling, Rt. Hn. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Slater, J.||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||While, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Pannell, T. C.||Snow, J. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sorensen, R W.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Parker, J.||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir F||Wilkes, L.|
|Paton, J.||Sparks, J. A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Pearson, A.||Steele, T.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Pearl, T. F||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Poole, Cecil||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Popplewell, E.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Porter, G.||Stross, Dr. B.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Pursey, Comdr. H||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Rankin, J.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Reel, Mrs. D.||Thomas, T. George (Cardiff)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Reeves, J.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Woods, Rev. G. S.|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Reid, W. (Camlachie)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Yates, V. F.|
|Rhodes, H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Richards, R.||Timmons, J||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Robens, A.||Tommy, F||Mr. Hannan and Mr. Royle.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ It being after Ten o'Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, The Chairman left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress: to sit again Tomorrow.