Is my hon. Friend aware that this is the first increase in approvals in the public sector since the decline which set in in 1967? Can he calculate the extent to which this welcome improvement will help employment prospects in the construction industry in Scotland?
The decline set in after 1967, as I think my hon. Friend meant to say. It is a welcome turn of the tide and I hope that we shall get a further increase in the coming year with consequent great benefit to employment in Scotland and to the supply of homes for people on the waiting lists.
Will the hon. Gentleman answer a question which he does not answer in the Standing Committee on the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Bill? Will he admit that this shameful figure compares with 33,000 approvals in 1968 and the same number in 1969? Is it not the case that the entire building programme has collapsed by over one-third since the hon. Gentleman took office and that he is responsible for the failure to get approvals? Is it not a fact that a large number of these approvals are due in any event to the so-called "1st December clause" and that we have not yet been told how many of these houses are in that category?
The hon. Gentleman's figures are quite wrong. The figure for local authority approvals in 1968 was 27,491 and in 1969 it was 26,806. This represented a steady drop from the total in 1967. The drop has turned into an increase, which is very encouraging for us all.