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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

We may hear of them, and perhaps we may change our view about them. These do not appear to be points which affect the vital part of this Bill, and they can all be raised in Committee. I am sure hon. Members will agree that there is no one more willing to consider suggestions than my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland. A further topic of some importance was raised—namely, the question of how long the local authorities were to have to erect their houses in order to earn the benefit of the State subvention. My right hon. Friend has listened to the arguments of hon. Members on that particular topic, and he authorises me to say that he will reconsider the whole matter with very great care. That is all that I can promise in regard to that important subject. Looking at this scheme as a whole, it is important that we should, as far as possible, get back to economic conditions, and this must be kept in view when you deal with the contributions which are made from the State to these particular schemes. I should like to remove, so far as I can, two rather important misconceptions which have arisen as regards the effect of this Bill. In the first place, the Bill does expressly provide that housing schemes or town-planning schemes may be made jointly by local authorities. That is the effect of Sub-section (5) of Clause 1. In the next place, I should like to point out that this Bill places the working-class houses, both in rural areas and inurban areas, in exactly the same position The Bill applies to all working-class houses in Scotland, whether they exist in urban districts or in the rural districts. Clauses 31 and 32 add to the powers of rural authorities in making by-laws with regard to the erection of houses. Therefore, so far as working-class housing is concerned, this Bill is a Scottish national Bill. It proceeds on broad lines, no doubt, at the present moment, but the main provisions of it are imperative, and cannot be evaded, and local authorities now can be compelled to act. It is true that the Bill does not provide for inspectors, about which a question was asked by the hon. Member who represents one of the Divisions of Glasgow in his very interesting maiden speech. There is no question of inspectors. That is not required. The Local Government Board officials are always alert, and they know, even now, the housing conditions in the various districts of Scotland. No doubt the Local Government Board have their own inspectors at headquarters, but it not expected that special local inspectors will be required. That being the nature of this Bill, and the attitude of the House towards it being so friendly, and my right hon. Friend being so accommodating to hon. Members in his desire to meet them on all matters which will improve the measure, I venture to suggest that it should now be read a second time.