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Housing

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th December 2013.

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Photo of Maureen Watt Maureen Watt Scottish National Party

Presiding Officer, I thought that the convention was that members are allowed at least a minute before interventions. Let us stick to that, shall we?

The motion states that

“Scotland is facing a housing crisis” and that

“the number of new homes built in 2012 was the lowest since the post-war era”.

I wonder why that is. It would not be anything to do with the complete collapse of the economy that was presided over by the previous Labour Government at Westminster, would it? The selective amnesia of the Labour Party—and, we now hear, of the Tories—is breathtaking. The decline in house building is entirely due to the downturn in private sector housing construction. With banks refusing to lend to them, many house builders are going to the wall and there is a lack of confidence among house sellers and buyers as they see the value of properties decline.

While the Labour Party sits and moans, “Woe, woe and three times woe,” the SNP is taking action and intervening wherever it can with its currently limited powers. We know from its record of inaction that that would be the Labour Party’s reaction. Even in the good times, before the crisis, Labour’s record on house building was woeful. It is worth repeating that Labour built only six council houses in its last four years in government compared with the 3,724 council homes that were completed by the SNP Government in the six years to June 2013. Also in the six years to June 2013, 27,023 housing association homes were completed—a rise of 16 per cent over the six years from 2002 to 2007, when Labour was in power. That can be said to be typical of Labour, as in Wales Labour has built only eight council houses in the past few years. In addition, when the SNP in Aberdeen called for the council to borrow to build more council homes, both Labour and the Tories rejected that call.

Despite the 26 per cent reduction in the capital budget from Westminster, planned investment in housing over the four years to 2015-16 will exceed £1.35 billion. Of course we would like to do more, but we are constrained by the financial settlement.

James Kelly rose—

I am not aware that anybody on the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee or the Finance Committee suggested changes to the budget to increase spending on housing or said where such increased spending would come from. Is James Kelly going to tell us?