HC Deb 06 July 1977 vol 934 cc1234-5
12. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a White Paper on housing policy.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

My right hon. Friend presented to Parliament on 28th June 1977 a consultative document entitled "Scottish Housing", which contains the findings of his review of housing policies and finance.

Mr. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that we welcome many of the proposals, particularly those which point to the need for extra owner-occupation in Scotland? In that connection, will he give positive encouragement to local authorities that wish to offer council houses for sale to sitting tenants and at least set out the guidelines that he would accept from councils that wish to put forward such schemes?

Mr. Brown

I appreciate the general welcome for the Green Paper. I am not prepared to give a directive urging any local authority to consider selling council houses. It is all spelled out in the Green Paper. If local authorities submit schemes that form part of comprehensive housing plans, they will be considered in the context of those plans.

Mr. Welsh

Regrettably, this seems to be the day of the non-answer. Is the Under-Secretary aware that 160,000 houses in Scotland are below accepted minimum tolerable standards? Is it true that he can give no date when those houses will be brought up to such minimum tolerable standards? If so, what kind of policy is that?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman is trying desperately hard to make an impression, and he is failing. The number of houses below the tolerable standard increased because there was a raising of what we considered to be the tolerable standard. I am not complacent about this matter. This is one of the biggest single problems in Scotland. I recognise that many houses below the tolerable standard are in rural areas. All I can say is that in the past many housing authorities—not Labour-controlled—should have built more houses.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Will my hon. Friend tell the House exactly how many, if any, houses would be made available as a result of selling municipal houses to tenants?

Mr. Brown

The selling of a council house does not add a single house to the housing stock. I see that hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches agree. The selling of council houses does not make additional houses available and does not make any serious contribution to better housing in Scotland.