Orders of the Day — Housing Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:05 am on 15th December 1986.

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Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart 2:05 am, 15th December 1986

And I am always willing to accept help from wherever it comes.

On top of all that, the Government are now seeking to shift the burden of local taxation from the wealthy home owner to the council house tenant through the change from rates to a poll tax. Home owners in my constituency whose houses are valued at £70,000 or £80,000 and who obtain tax relief on the maximum figure of £30,000 are currently obtaining a subsidy of more than £1,000 per year in tax relief. They pay some £1,250 to £1,300 a year in rates. A married couple—a standard household in Scotland—would pay about £550 a year in poll tax. With tax relief, they will be subsidised to the tune of £460 a year and will not contribute to local services. Council house tenants, however, who receive no subsidy or tax relief pay £370 in rates now and will pay the same £550 in poll tax. Nobody in his right mind can consider that fair or just.

I have given only a bare outline. The Government claim that they have done much for housing in Scotland, and yet there are 63,000 houses below the tolerable standard. In Glasgow alone, 21,000 private sector houses are below the tolerable standard. Some 22,000 council houses may also be below the tolerable standard. Some 350,000 houses need full or partial mondernisation, 107,000 council houses need rewiring and 308,000 council houses suffer from some form of dampness. Scotland requires about 251,000 houses for single people, but we have only 129,000.

We have greater overcrowding in Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom. There are 155,000 people on local authority waiting lists. We have a major housing crisis which the Government have done nothing to solve. They have tried to make propaganda out of the increase in this year's capital allocation, but the fact remains that, since the Government came to power in 1979, Government housing expenditure on Scotland has been halved. We require a Government who are committed to solving the housing crisis and who are prepared to use houses as one of the ways in which to get people back to work. The sooner that happens, the better it will be for the country.