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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th June 1975.

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Photo of Mr Frank McElhone Mr Frank McElhone , Glasgow Queen's Park 12:00 am, 30th June 1975

I am grateful for that advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, somewhat unusually for an Adjuornment debate, I am supported by a considerable number of my colleagues who may wish to make contributions of their own if the debate can be extended in the way that you suggest.

I ask the Minister also to give attention to the article in today's Glasgow Herald in which the council comes out and says that it could modernise between 2,000 and 3,000 houses a year. That is a considerable number of old tenements. We are long past the idea of simply putting a bulldozer to the older areas, demolishing them, and decanting people out to the peripheral areas. I am glad that that policy has changed and that we have now the housing action area programme, whereby houses are modernised and communities are kept in areas like Govanhill and other parts of Glasgow. It is pointed out that modernisation of 3,000 such homes a year would cost £20 million to £30 million a year, and that would be a considerable slice of the £50 million a year which is necessary if we are to change the image of the city of Glasgow and encourage people to go and work there.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State represents, in Glasgow, Provan, extensive areas of social deprivation. He has worked extremely hard for that area, both as a back bencher and as a Minister, and, to his great credit, he has also taken a keen interest, as housing Minister, in areas represented by other hon. Members. Despite the financial crisis facing the country, the attitude among my people is that perhaps a year or two years for any signs of action may he a year or two years too late, because they are looking for the justice which they think is Glasgow's due in the 1970s. If they are to be given justice, it must be early, because, all too often, justice delayed is justice denied.

In the case of old people in particular, I am extremely glad that the Scottish Office has at least seen fit to send a circular out urging local authorities to take some action on the provision of houses for the chronically sick and disabled.

Someone once said to me that I was always advancing the case for Glasgow. As a proud Glaswegian, I am prepared to do that as far as I possibly can. But there is in Glasgow a source of deep regret to me as a former Glasgow city councillor and now as a Member of Parliament for Glasgow. It is that, despite Section 3 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, which states that local authorties "shall" provide housing for the chronically sick and disabled—not "may" provide it—Glasgow has not provided one house specifically built for the chronically sick and disabled.

I have raised countless Questions on this matter over the last three or four years. All too often it is the smaller authorities which have moved forward under Section 3. I hope that, apart from sending out a circular, my hon. Friend will say that Glasgow Corporation ought to be doing its best within its housing programme to fulfil its deep obligation to provide houses for the chronically sick and disabled.

A survey carried out in my constituency found that, apart from 771 people who were in need of assistance and not getting it under that excellent Act, at least 20 to 30 of them were acutely in need of the special type of housing that other local authorities have provided. In balancing the claims put forward by hon. Members, I hope that my hon. Friend will give emphasis to this aspect and not only to housing generally. We talk a great deal about social deprivation and the need also for recreational facilities, about improving gardens and the green spaces within such areas. But all too often one finds that the accent is on areas which do not really need them as badly as, say, Black-hill, if I may quote a case in the Minister's own constituency.

My predecessors were distinguished people, and the records show that they made speeches on much the same lines as the one I am now making. The condition of such areas is one of the reasons why we have lost so many of our bright and best young people to England, Canada, Australia and other parts of the Commonwealth. With the discovery of North Sea oil a new life is emerging in Scotland. Certainly this is encouraged with the job opportunities presented to us by the Government. We wish to keep our people. The figures show that not so many people are leaving our country this year, and that is very welcome.

However, if we are to go through a period of severe restraint—and I understand the reasons for it—if there is money available, and I expect that there always will be some, I hope that it will go to the city of Glasgow. I hope that hon. Members will not think that I am being selfish. I hope that they will accept that our areas of deprivation are much worse than anywhere else—as the Department of the Environment has said —and that £50 million per year should go to Glasgow, that the urban deprivation unit should move in to assist the Glasgow District Council, that the Department of Employment should be asked to provide extra staff and that the Department of Health and Social Security should also be asked to provide extra staff. I agree with those facts, because those measures are important and necessary. If they are carried out and a commitment is given, a new and long-awaited change of life will be provided for the citizens of Glasgow.