HC Deb 30 July 1964 vol 699 cc1785-6
Q3. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the problems disclosed by the Report of the Town and Country Planning Association on Housing in Britain, a copy of which has already been sent to the Department concerned, he will divide the functions of the Minister of Housing and Local Government and appoint a Minister of Housing in charge of a separate department.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The Report provides no grounds for such action. Housing, planning and public health are all inter-related; and as these services are among the most important responsibilities of local authorities it is advantageous for the Minister of Housing to be responsible for local government as well.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Prime Minister aware that this comprehensive survey confirms the failure of Conservative Administrations to cope with the housing problem? Apart from overcrowding and high rents, the Report refers to the fact that there are over I million unfit houses in the United Kingdom. Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that over the last ten years this country has almost the lowest performance of housebuilding in proportion to its population of any country in Europe? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the housing problem in this country will not be dealt with adequately until a Minister is appointed who puts people's needs before profiteering?

The Prime Minister

If I were to go into comparisons with the performance of hon. Members opposite, I do not think that they would come out very well. It seems to me common sense that the Minister of Housing should deal with local authorities on all planning matters and therefore that this should be within his portfolio.

Lord Balniel

In view of the lamentably ill-informed supplementary question of the hon. Member for Wednes-bury (Mr. Stonehouse), may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has seen the recent indications that the Government's housing programme of 400,000 houses a year will be reached next year? Can my right hon. Friend say whether this will be the case or not?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, I think that it will. In 1965 we hope to reach the 400,000 mark.