Housing Support Grant (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:54 am on 17th February 1993.

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Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill 11:54 am, 17th February 1993

Some of us, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have more serious matters on our minds than trivial details of procedure. If the hon. Lady had managed to remain awake during some of the speeches, I would have some respect for her remarks now.

Hon. Members on this side of the House showed real concern and a genuine knowledge of Scottish housing issues. We were not so fortunate in listening to the contributions of Conservative Members—and that latest intervention was particularly inept and ill-advised.

The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) had nothing to say and took 13 minutes to say it. Of course housing benefit expenditure has increased—that is because more and more people are out of work. Does he not realise that those who receive it have all or some of their rent paid from housing benefit? By the time that it has paid off a proportion of housing debt and for housing management, precious little is left to pay for repairs to the fabric of properties, which is why council housing stock is in such a drastic state.

The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) spoke of Scotland's changing housing scene. He was dead right about that. Homelessness has reached record levels. This year is worse than last year, and worse than the year before that. That is the situation over which the Government preside.

Conservative Members do not address the issues. Do they not realise, and do they not care, that families are growing up in unhealthy housing? What chance in life do youngsters have when they have to grow up in damp and overcrowded housing and suffer chest infections? More and more single mothers are suffering depressive illness because of the condition of their homes and the poverty in which they live.

Conservative Members cannot claim that they believe in everyone being provided with a decent home and at the same time vote for housing support grants that are so inadequate that they are a joke.

We were given one and a half hours to debate Scotland's housing crisis. We need a Scottish Parliament, so that we may debate that issue properly and treat it with the seriousness that it deserves, so that we may restore to local councils the authority to govern their localities and not be kicked around by this Government.