HC Deb 24 May 1966 vol 729 cc262-4
24 and 25. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) what proposals he has to increase the output of system-built dwellings for local authorities;

(2) what proposals he has to stimulate local authorities to use new methods of building and new materials in order to increase their housing output.

Mr. Mellish

To operate with maximum efficiency, system-building requires long, continuous production runs, and concentration on a limited range of plan types. The industrialised building drive which my right hon. Friend launched last December seeks to create these conditions, to stimulate local authorities to use new materials and methods of construction, and to streamline their own operations. Details of the drive are given in Circular No. 76/65, and I am sending a copy to my hon. Friend.

Mrs. Short

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply and I shall look forward to reading the circular with interest. Nevertheless there is concern—[HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is concern—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] They will have their fun, won't they? Is my hon. Friend aware that there is concern about housing output? Does he not think that it would be a good idea to set up a public housing authority on the lines of the new town development corporations to build houses, so that we can be independent of private speculators who are inefficient and those local authorities who do not get their housing output on the move?

Mr. Mellish

The present figures of output of system-built dwellings, particularly by local authorities, are something of which the whole House ought to be proud. In 1964, 10.8 per cent. of the total public sector dwellings were system-built, last year it was 22,000, which is 16.9 per cent., and this year, in the first quarter, it has now gone up to 22 per cent. I think that by the end of the year about 30 per cent. of all local authority houses will have been built by system methods.

Dr. Winstanley

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that it is difficult to make full use of system-building while we continue to have more than 1,400 housing authorities which build an average of 70 houses a year? Would he consider amalgamating certain of these authorities along the lines adopted by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for the police force?

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Gentleman had better await the statement of the Prime Minister on the Royal Commission. I agree that there is a great problem for us in the Ministry to get co-ordinated building among so many local authorities, but consortia of a large number of these authorities are in operation now and are having a great success.