HC Deb 15 July 1943 vol 391 cc358-9
31. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Minister of Health whether he will define clearly the field for local authority building?

Mr. E. Brown

The field for local authority house-building after the war will, in my view, as was the case before the war, depend to a large degree on the extent to which the housing needs are met by the erection by private enterprise of houses both for sale and for letting. As my hon. Friend knows, the policy of the Government for several years before the war was that local authorities, who are charged by Parliament with the duty of reviewing the housing conditions in their areas and of preparing and submitting proposals to the Minister of Health for the provision of new houses for the working classes, should build houses for the replacement of the slums and the abatement of overcrowding and also for meeting general needs for houses for the working classes in so far as they were not met by private enterprise.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Is the right hon. Gentleman correct in saying that local authorities after the last war built houses for the working people, as the poorest people were neglected? Further, will the right hon. Gentleman restrict local authorities to building houses to let at an economic rental of not more than 8s. a week?

Mr. Brown

What we really want after the war is to have such economic conditions that public enterprise and private-enterprise can make their maximum contribution.

Mr. Cluse

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the difference in price for flats erected by municipal bodies and that charged by private enterprise? There is no profiteering in municipal flats but there is in private enterprise.

32. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Minister of Health what will ultimately be the total cost to the taxpayer and ratepayer for the, subsidies granted to local authorities for the 1,000,000 houses built by local, authorities between the two world wars?

Mr. Brown

The liability in respect of Exchequer subsidies is estimated to be of the order of £600,000,000. That in respect of rate contributions will be substantially less, but sufficient data are not available for framing an estimate.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Has the right hon. Gentleman gone through all the records, because the total cost will be no less than £2,500,000,000. What has influenced the Government to pay subsidies on houses?

Mr. Brown

The answer is clear in the history of the 20 years before the war.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

Is it not true that private enterprise proved totally incapable of providing the houses?

Mr. Brown

Private enterprise has provided 3,000,000 and public enterprise 1,000,000.

An Hon. Member

Over what period?

Mr. Brown

Twenty years.

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