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Housing

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

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Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

I suspect that the housing minister will be very sympathetic to any suggestions about how we can do things better, but the key problem as far as I am concerned—I think that I am the first member of the Finance Committee to have spoken in the debate—is a lack of money.

I intervened earlier during Mary Fee’s speech. She suggested that one way of having more money for housing would have been if GARL had not been cancelled. That is a very interesting idea. Is she saying that GARL should not have been started by Strathclyde partnership for transport—controlled by Labour—in the first place? Was it a Labour mistake to cancel it? Is she saying that it should have been completed? In that case, there would have been less money available for housing, because that money would have gone into GARL. What a bizarre suggestion.

Is Labour suggesting that we drop the Southern general hospital and put more money into housing? Is it suggesting that we drop Glasgow to Edinburgh rail electrification and put more money into housing from that? Those would all be options, albeit not my options. It would at least help if Labour would tell us where the money was to come from.

Alternatively, does Labour want the existing housing budget to fund the building of more homes? How is that to be done? Would Labour reduce housing association grant levels at a time when the Government has only recently increased them again? Would Labour cut them again?

I agree with Maureen Watt’s comments that it is disappointing to see a personal attack on the minister. It should be possible to debate such issues and to disagree on how we are dealing with them, and even to attack Government policy, but we should not necessarily be attacking the person.

I am very sympathetic towards the Green amendment. Many of the antisocial behaviour problems in my constituency relate to the private rented sector.