HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc235-7
23. Mr. Ronald Atkins

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what was the proportion of industrialised to traditional building in the housing output in the past 10 years.

Mr. Mellish

As the Answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Atkins

Is the Minister satisfied that progress has been sufficient for us to reach our industrialised building target of 40 per cent. by 1970?

Mr. Mellish

Yes. We can only talk here of the public sector. I am very glad to say that the figures have been steadily rising. In the eight months of this year, it has gone up in the public sector by 25.7 per cent. I expect by the end of the year that figure will have reached 30 per cent. I cannot give any figures for the private sector.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the Minister not be mesmerised by the words "industrialised" and "traditional"? Is there not a grave risk that in our anxiety to house people we shall cover the countryside with unattractive dwellings?

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Gentleman must clearly understand that there has been a great deal of trial and error already in this field, and much industrialised building today is not only good but is better in many instances than some of the traditional forms of building.

Following are the figures:

Proportion per cent. Number
1956 20 29,000
1957 (20) (29,000)
1958 (18) (21,000)
1959 (17) (17,000)
1960 (15) (15,000)
1961 (15) (14,000)
1962 (15) (15,000)
1963 (15) (14,000)
1964 14.4 17,000
1965 18.9 25,000
1966, January to August 25.7 23,000
Estimates ( ).


(a) The figures for 1956 relate to "new tradition" housing. The definition does not precisely correspond with that for "industrialised building", but the effect of the difference is thought to be small.

(b) Information was not collected between 1956 and 1964. The figures for these years are very rough estimates.

24. Mr. Ronald Atkins

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how the unit costs of industrialised and traditional building compare; and what are the relative times in man-years per house for industrialised and traditional building.

Mr. Mellish

No simple comparison of unit costs is very useful because averages conceal great diversity according to the systems used, the type of site, the size of contract and other factors. Comprehensive details of man-years per house are not available. However, it is known that with some systems the saving of site labour is substantial and with others only marginal.

Mr. Atkins

Is the Minister satisfied that unit costs are low enough to attract more contracts and programmes from local authorities?

Mr. Mellish

The figures we have at the moment show that on high rise, two to four-storeys, housing and in flats five or more storeys, in the main it is cheaper by industrialised methods. One of the problems is on the low rise. The difficulty is that there are not enough sites to give a continuous run, which makes this more economic. That is a problem for the industry.

Mr. Molloy

Would my right hon. Friend consider taking steps to increase the flow of technical and related information regarding industrial building between his Department and local authorities?

Mr. Mellish

A great deal of work has already been done on this. The National Building Agency is responsible for the appraisal certificates for industrialised building, particularly on low rise, and I think that any information which any local authority requires is in fact available, and what is more important, they are aware of it.