HC Deb 20 June 1966 vol 730 cc9-11
10. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what estimate he has made of the number of bricks of all types likely to be produced in Great Britain in 1966.

Mr. Boyden

It is not yet possible to make an estimate.

Mr. Goodhart

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that brick production continues to fall at a time when, according to the National Plan, it should be increasing sharply? In view of the continuing slowdown in the number of houses being built and the continued high level of brick stockpiling, what plans has the hon. Gentleman for increasing production?

Mr. Boyden

We are in close touch with the brick makers and have had a number of discussions with them. We are trying to do what we can regionally as well as nationally.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the 1965 brick production was down on the 1964 figure and that the same thing will happen this year? Is it not clear also that the present stocks will not be cleared by the end of this year? Is not this another blow at the industry's confidence?

Mr. Boyden

We hope that the stocks will be cleared up by the end of this year.

21. Mr. Clegg

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what representations he has received from the Chairman of the National Coal Board regarding the stocks of bricks held in April, 1966.

Mr. Boyden

None, Sir.

Mr. Clegg

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that in April the stocks of National Coal Board bricks stood at 80 million and that the Chairman of the National Coal Board estimated the increased cost per 1,000 bricks at 10s. per 100? Will not that put up the cost of housing?

Mr. Boyden

Of course the Coal Board has large stocks of bricks, but the encouraging thing about this is that the Board is quite prepared to increase efficiency and investment and production of bricks, because it has obvious faith in the need for bricks in the house building side of the construction industry.

25. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what was the stock of bricks of all types in Great Britain at the latest convenient date; and how many traditional-type three-bed-roomed houses this stock represents.

Mr. Boyden

896 million. None, Sir; a brick stock does not represent houses.

Mr. Hall

Is the hon. Gentleman ware that I can quite understand his unwillingness to relate the stock of bricks to the number of three-bedroomed houses? However, will he not agree that this is a tremendous indictment of the Government's mismanagement of the housing programme? In view of the fall in the rate of house building and the Minister's concentration on non-conventional building, will he not tell the brickmakers that they will be required to produce far fewer bricks in 1966 and 1967?

Mr. Boyden

It does not do much good to say that stocks of bricks represent houses. That only confuses the issue. As the cost of the bricks is only about 10 per cent, of the cost of a house, the hon. Gentleman's statement does not help. The negotiations and discussions now going on between my right hon. Friend and the brickmakers are much more helpful in trying to get a solution to the problem.

27. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister Public Building and Works what estimate he has formed of the additional cost to building material producers arising from overstocking of bricks in the last quarter of 1965 and in 1966.

Mr. Boyden

Brickmakers' own estimates range from about 10s. to £1 per thousand bricks.

Mr. Marten

What is the estimated wastage due to bad storage conditions for bricks? Can the hon. Gentlamen say what estimate there is of what capital is tied up in the storage of bricks?

Mr. Boyden

I should need notice of both questions.

28. Mr. Carlisle

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will offer guidance to brickmakers as to the likely requirements of bricks in 1967.

Mr. Boyden

My right hon. Friend and I have recently had meetings with the brickmakers to discuss their production problems.

Mr. Carlisle

Is the hon. Gentleman's unwillingness at this stage to make any forecast due to the disastrous effects on the building industry of his predecessor's forecast in November, 1964?

Mr. Boyden

There was a special emergency then and he acted quite rightly. Estimates of the load on the construction industry in 1967 are now being worked out between the Government and the industry in the economic development committees.

Mr. John Hall

Does the hon. Gentleman forecast a reduction in the requirements for 1967?

Mr. Boyden

I am not prepared to go further than what I have said.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

May we be told who it was who acted quite rightly? Was it the Minister? Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that any forecast would be better than the previous forecast?

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