HC Deb 15 November 1960 vol 630 cc204-5
40. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Prime Minister if the speech by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, on 29th October, regarding the ending of the national housing shortage, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Allaun

Did not the Chancellor, and later the Minister of Housing and Local Government, say that a national housing problem no longer exists, and that only a purely local problem remains? Is not that a cruel affront to the millions whose lives are being wrecked? I challenge the Prime Minister to go to any big city and say that the housing problem no longer remains. Can he name a single one?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend was drawing attention to the fact that the national problem had been largely solved—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]—and that what we now had to concentrate on was a number of local problems. This point was made in very similar words by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) in the debate on 2nd May.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the Prime Minister say how a national shortage can exist in a sense that it is not an accumulation of local shortages, and how the position has changed when, in every large city, we still have very long waiting lists?

The Prime Minister

I think it is within the knowledge of the House that whereas some years ago this was the most terrific, pressing problem, and our biggest problem, in many parts of the country and in some authorities it has now very largely been satisfied. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] It is for that reason that authorities such as that of the hon. Member who put down the Question are now concentrating on what one might call not houses for general purposes but for slum clearance, the pulling down of old houses, the renovation of some of them and the building of houses for old people.

Mrs. Slater

Does not the Prime Minister realise that every large city not only has a slum clearance problem but also an overcrowding problem? Does he not know that every large city has a long waiting list of people who have not an earthly chance of a house while the Government pursue their present policy? Is not this a national problem?

The Prime Minister

The chance of a house is as good as it has ever been, because we are building 300,000 houses a year, which we were told some years ago was beyond the capacity of this nation.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Prime Minister name a single large city where a housing shortage does not exist today? How can he say that the use of many new houses for slum clearance purposes, to absorb people from slum clearance areas, does not constitute a housing shortage?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps I can put the matter better in the words used by the hon. Member for Fulham. He said: It seemed to me, looking over the record of the debates, that these points in particular emerged. First, that although housing is a serious problem in many parts of the kingdom, it is becoming a regional problem."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1960: Vol. 622, c. 702.]