HC Deb 20 October 1953 vol 518 cc1781-3
1. Sir R. Acland

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is yet able to make a statement on the resale of houses built under licence since the war.

2. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a statement of the Government's proposals concerning the selling price of houses built under licence.

12. Mr. Braine

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will make a statement concerning the continuance or otherwise of the control over the selling prices of houses built under private licence since the war.

14. Mrs. White

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what conditions he proposes to impose on the resale of houses built under licence when the present Regulations lapse in December next.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The power to control the selling price of post-war houses is contained in Section 7 of the Building Materials and Housing Act, 1945, Section 43 of the Housing Act, 1949, and Section 38 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1949. It will lapse automatically on 20th December next unless renewed, and the Government do not propose to ask Parliament to renew it. This control was introduced to prevent profiteering in these houses at a time when licences were difficult to obtain and pre-war houses commanded scarcity prices. Now that freedom to build under licence has been greatly extended and the price of pre-war houses is declining, we do not think that this control, which imposes a real hardship on many owner-occupiers, can any longer be justified.

Mr. Dalton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this will be a keenly controversial matter on which no doubt debate may take place in this House, and that to many of us it appears to be a blatant encouragement to profiteering?

Mr. Macmillan

I think that if the right hon. Gentleman had watched the prices which are actually commanded in the market he would have seen that the success of the housing policy of the Government has had the effect of reducing prices.

Sir R. Acland

Does the Minister recall that in the pre-war years there were evils associated with the question of building for profit which were condemned as such and recognised not only by the Members of the Labour Party? Will he keep a careful watch to see that they do not occur again?

Mr. Macmillan

I shall keep a watch on every relevant matter.

Brigadier Medlicott

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that this provision has served its purpose very well but that the decision of the Government not to renew it is very timely and marks a valuable step forward in the Government's general plans to see that all sections of the community are properly housed?

Mrs. White

Is the Minister aware that while the prices of larger houses in many areas have fallen the prices of smaller houses are still very high indeed, and that in areas where there are very few houses obtainable to rent the provisions which the Minister proposes to revoke have been a real safeguard and are still needed?

Mr. Macmillan

I think that the governing words are "have been."

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