HC Deb 30 October 1947 vol 443 cc1058-60
7. Mr. Marples

asked the Minister of Health what modifications in the housing programme he proposes to make; and if he will make a full statement.

11. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Health whether his new regulations to stop all new house building apply to the Stevenage satellite towns.

Mr. Bevan

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Economic Affairs in the course of the Debate on the Address on 23rd October. I am sending the hon. Members a copy of the circular which was sent to local authorities today.

Mr. Marples

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that when building recommences—it should be "commences" instead of "recommences"—it will be necessary to have a nucleus of trained workers, and unless a very much more comprehensive statement can be given to the public and to the trade there will simply not be a building industry to be called upon?

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Gentleman has not yet seen the circular to which I have referred and I would advise a study of it before he reaches any conclusion. There are 350,000 houses already under construction and under contract and that will be sufficient to keep the building industry occupied for a little while to come. As he will have seen from the statement of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Economic Affairs, the whole position will be reviewed in the early summer of next year.

Sir W. Smithers

Is it proposed to answer my Question No. 11?

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member's question is mixed up a little bit, as the latter part of it should have been addressed to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.

Sir W. Smithers

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why priority is given to the ill-advised Socialist Stevenage scheme and, if it has been given, will he also say, as regards farm cottages, why priority over them has been given to the Stevenage scheme? He has not answered my Question.

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Gentleman has based his inquiries upon a number of assumptions which have no reference to reality either here or anywhere else.

Sir W. Smithers

On a point of Order. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you are aware that I did not expect to get a silk purse out of a sow's ear?

Mr. E. P. Smith

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the provision of houses is a very essential capital expenditure?

Commander Galbraith

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of the 350,000 houses of which he has spoken are permanent houses?

Mr. Bevan

All of them.

Mr. Dumpleton

Will the Minister impress on his colleagues in the Cabinet that there should be no curtailment of the housing programme whatever else may happen, because it would cause widespread resentment and injury?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Bevan

I am sure we are fully aware of that, especially as we have received endorsement from hon. Members on the other side.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Will the Minister tell the House whether or not he still adheres to the view he expressed to the House on 28th July that any reduction in the housing programme will gravely jeopardise national progress?

Mr. Bevan

At the moment no reduction in the housing programme has taken place.