asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representation he has received against the relaxation of the provision of table 17 of the Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations 1981, in respect of Barratt Edinburgh Ltd. one-apartment flats, type studio solo, proposed to be built in Kirkcaldy district; and if he will make a statement.
Because the building standards regulations do not cover flats specifically designed for one-person accommodation, the space requirements in respect of these flats have been relaxed. Representations have been made by Kirkcaldy district council.
Is the Minister aware that Kirkcaldy district council is bitterly opposed to these unjustified reductions in the standards of those houses, particularly the minimum basic standards? Although such houses may be acceptable in England, we in Scotland do not want rabbit hutches for living accommodation. Will the Minister at least remove relaxation for Kirkcaldy district council?
The hon. Gentleman has missed the key point. When the space standards were drawn up, a demand for minimum living accommodation for single people only was not envisaged. It is wrong to penalise innovations that meet modern housing needs. Indeed, I understand that the flats are selling extremely well.
Is there not a change of policy by the Government in this particular case, as similar proposals have been turned down in the past? Will the hon. Gentleman comment on the wider question of the complete relaxation of space standards? Is he aware that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the district housing authorities and all the professional interests are bitterly opposed to such relaxation? The last thing that Scotland wants is many small, inadequate houses. We have enough of them already.
We have recently completed public consultation on our proposals to drop housing space standards on the basis that they are outdated restrictions on freedom of choice. A statement will be made after we have considered the responses and the advice of the Building Standards Advisory Committee. However, I would expect the right hon. Gentleman to be in favour of outdated restrictions on freedom of choice.
Will the Minister confirm that there are no technical reasons for allowing the standards laid down by the House to be relaxed and that the Government have allowed them to be relaxed not only in Kirkcaldy, but in Dunfermline, Edinburgh and Dundee? Where else will that firm be allowed to build its hutches? Is it not true that it makes very big subscriptions to the Tory party and that that is why the Minister is allowing it to get away with murder?
The answer to the hon. Gentleman's last point is, "Not to my knowledge." The hon. Gentleman has raised this point before. Following his last hysterical outburst about Barratt, I understand that he was invited to see a studio solo and he refused.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister asserted that I had received an invitation from Barratt, the builders, to visit one of its houses. That is certainly not true within the past six months —(HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—although in the dim and distant past it might have issued a friendly invitation that I refused. I would refuse any subsequent invitation, too.