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Orders of the Day — Housing and Town Planning (Scotland) Bill.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 5th May 1919.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Morison Mr Thomas Morison , Inverness

I repeat I think my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension in regard to this matter. I am not fully acquainted with the English Bill, but my information is that he is mistaken on that point. My hon. Friend offered some criticism on public utility societies which are given certain privileges under this Bill. Of course, the administration of those bodies depends very largely on the question by whom and how they are to be controlled. The scheme of the Bill is to place them under the control first of the local authorities, and to subject them also to the regulation laid down by the Local Government Board. My hon. Friend also referred to certain facts connected with housing schemes in Glasgow. I am not able to give him the actual figures in regard to the number of houses, the plans for which have already been passed by the Local Government Board. I had no notice that this subject was going to be raised, but my information is that my hon. Friend has rather underestimated the number passed. This, I think, exhausts the points mentioned by my hon. Friend, but I wish to say a few words upon some other matters which have been referred to in the Debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Graham) made some very valuable suggestions in regard to future tenements in Scotland—as to their size, construction, height, number and shape. All these matters will be considered very carefully by my right hon. Friend in Committee, and it will be for the Committee to decide whether it is better to lay down rules on these and cognate matters or whether the local authorities shall not be allowed a wide discretion in regard to all such matters of detail. The next general question that was discussed was that farmed-out houses were not dealt with in the present Bill. The statement is not quite accurate, because, in so far as the farmed-out houses are dwelling-houses, of course they are subject to the provisions of this Bill. What I understood my hon. Friend to point to was that certain recommendations contained in the Report were not given effect to in the Bill. The reason for that is that these were recommendations which affected the police administration of the particular districts. The Housing Bill is complicated enough as it stands at present, but it would make it much more complicated if one introduced Amendments to such a code of legislation as the Burghs Police Acts or the Public Health Acts. For that reason we have not dealt with that particular phase of the Royal Commission's recommendations. Another general point raised was why we were not taking power in this Bill to deal with the restrictions which appear in feu charters. That is a very important topic. Although I know there are many restrictions which are antiquated and useless, it has to be remembered that there are some restrictions which are of some public utility. It is impossible, therefore, to deal with this question unless we deal with it in some detail. But I wish to point out that as regards building restrictions which would restrict town-planning schemes, the Local Government Board, by their Regulations, can deal with them. Furthermore, the local authority, if they find building restrictions as regards a particular area in their way, they may acquire them under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, and, of course, by acquiring them, sweep them away altogether.