I wish the hon. Gentleman well in trying to reach the target, but can he take steps to see that the houses are properly built and made to last? Does he realise that some houses—there is a group in my constituency at Southhouse—are extremely badly built? What is the possibility of strengthening the supervising staff when houses are being erected?
The Scottish Development Department has been criticised for being perhaps over-zealous in these matters. Perhaps there is a conflict between trying to build too many houses and ensuring that they are built well. Nevertheless, the Department will do its best to see that its rôle in the matter is carried out properly. We are satisfied that most local authorities and most contractors take pains to see that houses are of good quality and built to last.
Thirty-seven thousand one hundred were built in 1964. It is the earnest hope that we shall build more. but it can be only marginally in 1965, because it takes 15 months to prepare for building a house. The really record targets will be in 1966 and 1967, when we hope to knock the pants off hon. Members opposite.
Will my hon. Friend indicate how many of these houses will be for letting and what percentage will be erected by private speculators? Would he agree that since most people in Scotland wish to have a house for letting, private speculative enterprise has contributed little or nothing and will contribute little or nothing to a solution of Scotland's housing problem?
Offhand, I believe that about 7,000 of the 37,000 houses were built by private enterprise last year. It is the genuine desire of my right hon. Friend that the proportion of private enterprise building in Scotland should increase because we wish to see a diversity sufficient to attract the different kinds of business and technical personnel which we must have in Scotland if we are to become a thriving industrial community, as we should be.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is no likelihood of an increase in the number of privately-owned houses until the Government get down to running their financial policies properly so that people can get mortgages?
That is not the case in Scotland. On the whole, it is not the lack of availability of finance which holds back the development of private building, but the inability of contractors to build at prices lower than in parts of England, with the exception of the South-East. We hope to help the contracting industry in some way to meet this situation.