Housing (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:57 pm on 4th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr Calum MacDonald Mr Calum MacDonald , Na h-Eileanan an Iar 7:57 pm, 4th March 1997

The hon. Gentleman is completely wrong. Nobody in his right mind would want to knock down perfectly good homes. The houses to which he refers are Ministry of Defence stock. Some are perfectly good, and I would like to see them retained; others are well past any kind of repair and should be cleared away. That would be obvious to anybody who looked at those houses. I invite the hon. Gentleman to look at them if he wants to be convinced.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leith made the point that, because of the Government's cuts year on year in the housing budget, we are seeing not just a housing crisis, particularly in rural areas, but a health crisis, as people's health is affected when they live in houses that are damp, draughty and not properly insulated. It is also an economic crisis, because the cuts have a direct impact on local businesses and local employment. Many small businesses, such as builders, rely heavily on the money that used to come their way through the public sector to improve and develop housing stock.

In taking the money away, the Government are hitting not just small businesses but people on low incomes, the health of the nation and the economy of Scotland, particularly the economy of places such as the western isles, where the reduction in expenditure is immediately discernible. That is why I so welcome my hon. Friend's commitment to look at housing partnerships, to release new money to reinvest in the housing programme that is much needed. I am sure that that will be the direction in which we shall go after April.