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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

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Christian Auer

XVII. Economic and social conditions

119. Slum Dwellers, 1926

Texte intégral

1Whereas the 1917 Royal Commission had recommended that 20,000 new houses should be built every year for the next fifteen years, in 1927 only 82,000 new homes had been built. The following article gives the opinions of a Glasgow MP and of a Medical Officer for Health: “Churchmen and the slum dwellers”, The Glasgow Herald, 15 December 1926.

Churchmen and the slum-dwellers

Conference in Glasgow

The manner in which churchmen might assist in obtaining improved housing conditions was discussed at a conference representative of churchmen of the various denominations of the city, held in Glasgow yesterday.

It was agreed that a deputation should be sent to the Town Council to urge that houses for the lower paid workers be provided more rapidly, and that a “Housing Sunday” should be held early next year.

Blot on the City

  • 10 Sir Samuel Chisholm (1836-1923), Lord Provost between 1899 and 1902, was one of Glasgow’s most for (...)

Mr E Mitchell, M.P., presided over the conference, which was held at the Christian Institute. He said that the Slum Abolition League existed for the purpose of quickening and maintaining the interest of our citizens in the conditions under which slum-dwellers lived. They did not consider the supervision of houses for people of the middle-class, but existed primarily for the purpose of remedying and removing injustices from which, without the help of public opinion, slum-dwellers could not free themselves. Glasgow had had in the past, he said, a record of work in this direction which at one time caused it to be called the pioneer of cities. The great city improvement schemes of Glasgow were far in advance of the movements in other cities, and he recalled the time when Glasgow, Scotland, and even England were stirred by the propaganda work of Sir Samuel Chisholm10, who died with a hundred schemes in his mind. The members of the league were anxious that the people should feel that just as they knew a certain minimum was required for their own children, they should not be content until they knew that that minimum was provided for every child in Glasgow. Since 1919, he said, there had been built by the Corporation 1668 houses to meet what was eight years ago a problem of 13,189 houses which were unfit for human habitation. The Corporation had not been able to meet the demands made upon them. If they were to take the minimum standard of the Board of Health, they would be faced with the amazing fact that 45 per cent of the houses of the city were below that minimum. Dealing with the economic aspect of the question, he appealed to the churches to help to supply the necessary dynamic power, and to awaken public opinion so that the public would be prepared to meet the expense of removing the blot and disgrace of slums, and to get clean habitations in which home life might be led naturally and normally without being impinged upon by the evil influences of overcrowding and mixing of sexes. […]

Dr A. S. M. Mac Gregor, Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow, dealing with the condition under which slum-dwellers lived, and the influence on the vital statistics, said that in one area dealt with under the last slum-clearance scheme, there was a population of 1500, representing a density of 534 per acre. The death rate in that area was 33 per thousand as compared to 14.8 for the whole city. An adverse effect of such bad housing was the high proportion of deaths from respiratory diseases. The infantile mortality in the area was 223 as against 107 for the city, and he held that in the interests of the young children new houses should be designed.

Notes

10 Sir Samuel Chisholm (1836-1923), Lord Provost between 1899 and 1902, was one of Glasgow’s most formidable and outspoken civic politicians. A radical Liberal, he was associated with such controversial causes as municipal enterprise, temperance reform and Scottish Home Rule.

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