Homelessness etc (Scotland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:23 pm on 5th March 2003.

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Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative 4:23 pm, 5th March 2003

I am grateful to Mr Harper for leaving me some additional time, Presiding Officer. [ Interruption. ] It is all right—I am joking.

I came to the Parliament with a considerable background of action in the housing field and to progress issues that were important to me and to the people that I represented. I congratulate the minister on her bill and on the progress of her agenda.

However, the point about the level of resources, which the minister raised in her speech, concerns me. Clearly, resources for building are an important part of the strategy of providing supply to deal with homelessness.

I am concerned that, over and above what Kenny Gibson said about the strategic level of resource available to support new housing for social rent, my experience of a housing association is that resources taper downwards in much of Scotland, even where there is substantial demand.

I am also concerned that there appears to be a genuine problem with land supply in many parts of the south of Scotland. There are deficiencies in planning guidance, but guidance is necessary to encourage local authorities to find mechanisms to release the land to cater for the resources that I hope will become available.

I am concerned that the resource level assumed in the minister's thinking, in the speeches she makes and in the research that comes through her department means that the Executive is aiming its building programme at meeting the needs of emergent households. I am also concerned that there is no realisation of the need to cater for and to meet the needs of significant suppressed demand.

Lots of people in our communities do not feature as homeless, such as adults who live with their parents and people in temporary accommodation or shared tenancies. The quantification of housing need that I have seen does not adequately reflect those circumstances. There is considerable unmet need in Scotland and I hope that the bill will lead to the introduction of more resources to deal with it.

In politics, we must do what the Parliament did about free personal care: we resolved to pursue free personal care and we asserted the principle that the resources should follow the policy. The resources have followed that policy and the debate continues about whether the resources are sufficient. In the context of the bill, the policy should be asserted that there shall be enough resources to provide that every family in this country of ours will be adequately and decently housed by 2012. If the bill is passed, the consequence will be that the Executive must provide the resources. I hope that that will happen. The responsible thing to do is to support the bill and to demand that the resources will follow.

In politics, there is nothing without honour. I cannot agree to abstain from the vote on the bill or to oppose it because that would damn everything that I believe in and that I have worked for in public life for a decade and a half. I will support the bill this evening.