My hon. Friend is right. I have given the hon. Member for Tayside, North every opportunity to tell the House how many houses Perth and Kinross district council owns, but he will not do that because he does not know the answer. Nor does the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn). They must sit in embarrassed silence because neither knows the answer, although they claim to represent that local authority in the House.
The Government's squeeze on capital expenditure in years past has contributed to rent increases. District councils, faced with a loss of houses because they have been forced to sell them and because they cannot get the capital allocation that they need to build new houses, have had to take out covenant schemes to build the houses they need. Such schemes are fine at the time, but a day of reckoning comes when repayments have to be made, and repayments are being made in a climate of climbing interest rates because of the Government's policies. That means another massive cost to the housing revenue account, and it is another reason for higher rents.
Labour district councillors in Dundee are doing a magnificent job on behalf of tenants in the city, whom they are trying to defend in a rapidly deteriorating situation. We have heard some statistics about homelessness tonight. Conservative Members had better know that, in Dundee, during the past five years, homelessness has trebled—and that figure does not take into account factors such as recent increases in mortgage interest rates, which will lead to a great deal more people being made homeless in the city. Housing benefit and social security changes will add to the problem.
The Government make out a good case for tackling the housing crisis in Scotland. They speak about co-operation between the Government and local councils and an attempt to deal with the many problems, especially in peripheral estates such as Whitfield.