HC Deb 21 February 1946 vol 419 cc1275-6
4. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health how many tenders for municipal housing schemes he has refused to sanction on the ground of high cost, and in how many cases he has insisted on a reduction in the standard of amenities in these schemes below that outlined in the Housing Manual in order to bring the tenders within a figure he would approve.

Mr. Bevan

As regards the number of tenders refused, I would ask my hon. Friend to await the housing progress report which will contain this figure. As regards the standard of amenities I would refer her to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 13th December.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Minister aware that there is a good deal of confusion and anxiety in the minds of local authorities about the reduction of amenities he is prepared to allow in municipal flats, and will he give an undertaking that he will not try to bring down housing costs by sacrificing amenities which experience has shown to be necessary?

Mr. Bevan

I have stated on several occasions— and it is part of Government policy— that housing costs should not be reduced by a reduction of housing standards. Most housing authorities agree that that has been accomplished. There have been certain reductions in price which have been the result of cutting out, not amenities or standards, but, as I said last week, certain frills.

Mr. H. Hynd

Is the Minister aware that the council of which I am a member has recently had to cut out what he is pleased to call "frills" in order to come down to what he regards as an essential price?

Major Guy Lloyd

Would it not be better if the right hon. Gentleman were to face the unpleasant economic facts and fix an economic price for houses?

Mr. Bevan

I regard the last supplementary. question as entirely irrelevant. With regard to the first, the answer is that I would be interested to find any local authority which would assert by resolution that housing standards have been reduced. There have been reductions in price, but not at the expense of standards.