§ 12. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the recent increase in interest rates for home purchasers and council house tenants, he will restore the 3 per cent. housing loans available to local authorities up to 1951; and what would be the approximate annual cost to the Exchequer of providing housing loans through the Public Works Loan Board at this rate instead of 6¼ per cent. on council houses now under construction.
§ Mr. Barber
No, Sir. It would cost the Exchequer roughly £8 million per year to allow the Public Works Loan Board to make 60-year loans to local authorities at 3 per cent. instead of the current rate of 6¼ per cent. in respect of the 142,500 or so council houses now under construction.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is not £8 million a relatively small sum to help the rehousing drive which is so desperately needed? Will the Minister again make the excuse that he cannot insulate tenants from the 618 general interest rates in the market, when that is precisely what he is doing with Cunard, Colvilles, B.M.C. and Ford? Does not his Answer to Question No. 11 show that it is not the tenants who are being subsidised but the financiers?
§ Mr. Barber
In answering Question No. 11, I dealt with Her Majesty's Government's general policy on this matter. I can only repeat that to do what the hon. Gentleman wishes would, in effect, be to give a concealed subsidy. We believe that it is better, by means of the assistance given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, to give help in such a form as will be perfectly apparent to all concerned.