Information is available in a wide range of published and unpublished sources and I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on Monday 12th January.—[Vol. 903, c. 76–77.]
Is the Minister satisfied that he has defined and identified in detail the exact nature and extent of Scotland's housing needs, and can he assure us of action as soon as possible to meet those needs in full? Is he aware of the enormous gaps in governmental mechanisms in Scotland to meet those problems? Is he aware that his own record shows all the flair and determination of a hibernating tortoise? When will he get himself and his Department organised into a proper Scottish Housing Department?
I did not hear the last part of that, but I do not suppose that I missed much. I have been accused of many things, but never before of being a hibernating tortoise. Of course I am not satisfied. I shall never be satisfied until we have fulfilled our aim of giving every family a decent home to live in. But the completions, the approvals and the starts in 1975 are all at the highest levels of recent years.
There is nothing funny about this. There is a good deal of truth in what my hon. Friend says. It is precisely for this reason that we have issued a circular asking all housing authorities to give us the returns showing housing needs and showing comprehensively how they intend to tackle them. I am sure that they will confirm what my hon. Friend has said in the areas of many authorities.
In view of the present high unemployment in Scotland, will the hon. Gentleman see how he could help the construction industry in relation to housing and other local authority construction by increasing the speed of approval of grants of all sorts which might bring work into that industry in the near future?
There is no limit to the resources available for new house building. If the hon. Gentleman has any information about any delay in my office regarding approvals and so on, I shall certainly investigate it. But if he is talking about other construction work, or other work involving the building industry, there are limitations on public resources for housing improvement and so on. Those activities are labour intensive. But I repeat that the expenditure is still at record levels, so we are making a substantial contribution to the construction industry.