The Earl of Dalkeith:
I thank the Under-Secretary for that reply. Would he not agree that one of the main obstacles to faster house building in many parts of Scotland is the shortage of skilled labour? What steps is he going to take to encourage an increase in the construction of houses by industrialised methods, which may be one solution to this problem?
The noble Lord will be aware that my right hon. Friend and I have had many meetings with local authorities. Only last Friday we had a meeting with the National Building Agency and 85 local authorities to try to convince them of the importance of the Agency and of industrialised building methods which, as he rightly indicated, will help us to save labour when we are so short of skilled labour for house building. Then there is the work of the S.L.A.S.H. consortium. That work is beginning and we would like to see more local authorities taking part in consortia as they are arranged. I hope that we will manage to secure some this year.
I should, perhaps, make it clear that when I answered the Question I was referring to industrialised building, which includes the whole question of mechanised on-site building methods such as "no-fines" concrete. Having made that reservation, I can give the assurance that we are trying to encourage more new establishments to set up in Scotland. There are already seven factories in existence and at least one more will go to Scotland. We are interested in other systems and perhaps they will develop.