HC Deb 01 August 1966 vol 733 cc9-12
12. Mr. Sharples

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will state the average percentage rise in the price of new dwelling mortgages by private owners in each of the years 1961–62 to 1964–65; and if he will make a statement.

13. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works in which year or years during the period covered by his Department's records the cost of a house rose by an amount exceeding the 10 per cent. recorded in 1966.

Mr. Prentice

The percentage rise between 1961 and 1962 was 6.8 and in the three subsequent years 6.5, 7.6 and 9.9. But between the second quarter of 1960 and the second quarter of 1961 the rise was 10.6 per cent.

Mr. Sharples

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the figures for the year 1965 constitute an all-time record?

Mr. Prentice

It depends whether one is taking the figures for the calendar year 1965 and comparing them with other calendar years. If one is, then it certainly is a record compared with other calendar years. The previous year was almost exactly the same. I said that it was 9.9 per cent. for the previous year, which is nearly the same as for the following year.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw the answer he gave last week when he disputed the proposition put to him by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon)? Will he also give an assurance that he will not break the record again this year?

Mr. Prentice

No, Sir. As the right hon. Gentleman will recall, in my original reply I referred to the period of 12 months, in which the figure was 10.6 per cent., and therefore higher than the 10 per cent. about which we bandied points last time. The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) made two propositions to me, one of which was nearly correct but not quite, and the other of which was seriously out. I said that I did not agree with either proposition. I therefore have nothing to withdraw. He had something to withdraw, and he did withdraw it, because he was out of order at the time.

Mr. Rippon

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that whenever these figures have been discussed we have referred invariably to a calendar year? Will he now apologise for the answer he gave me, just as I apologised for what I said to him?

Mr. Prentice

I have nothing to apologise for, for the reason I have given. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not apologise to me last week; he withdrew what he said in accordance with your instructions, Mr. Speaker. I do not know whether he considers he has something for which to apologise, but whether or not he does is a matter for him.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Does the Minister realise that we have had from this Government three or four different Ministers giving the same wrong answer as he gave last week? Will he try to see that this matter is cleared up, and also see that there is some co-ordination between Ministers?

Mr. Prentice

I have given a series of figures. The answer that I gave last week was in reply to a supplementary question. Subsequent research has shown that my answer was not wrong. It did not go into figures, because I do not carry these figures in my head. I think that the House would be better employed looking at the facts of the situation in general terms and not in bandying statistics back and forth. But there was a period in which the rise was 10.6 per cent.

15. Mr. A. Royle

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what estimate he has made of the effect on building costs of the import surcharge at the levels of 15 per cent., and 10 per cent. in 1965 and in the first six months of 1966; and what will be the effect of abolition of the surcharge on an average contract.

Mr. Prentice

It is not possible to say exactly how far the imposition of the surcharge increased the costs of imported materials, or how far the removal will reduce them. In both cases the amount would certainly be less than 1 per cent. on average of total construction costs.

Mr. Royle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the muddle caused by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, who said, on 24th May, that the effect of S.E.T. would be offset by the rebate on the surcharge? This is quite different from what the Minister has just said. Who is correct?

Mr. Prentice

In both cases we are dealing with very small percentages. In the case of S.E.T., as I have already said, the estimated increase will be about 2 per cent. I have said on many occasions that this would be partially offset by the removal of the import surcharge. I have not the exact words used by my hon. Friend to which reference has just been made.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is not the Minister aware that this is another example of Ministers seeming to differ? Will he look at the announcement made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing on 24th May and compare it with what his hon. Friend said to me later? They are totally different statements.

Mr. Prentice

This is another example of hon. Members opposite taking remarks out of context in order to try to score points. It has been recognised by a number of Government spokesmen that S.E.T. will put up the costs of construction to a limited extent. I have said that this will be offset by other factors, including investment incentive schemes and the effect of the rebate under S.E.T. on manufactured components used in building, and the removal of the import surcharge. This statement has been made by many Members of the Government in this connection.

21. Sir J. Eden

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works by how much the average price of new dwellings mortgaged by private owners in Great Britain rose in the first quarter of 1966.

Mr. Prentice

By just over 1 per cent.

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