HC Deb 28 November 1967 vol 755 cc216-8
21. Mr. Allason

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will now give an estimate of the number of new permanent dwellings likely to be completed in Great Britain in 1967.

36. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many new permanent dwellings he estimates will be completed in the private sector in Great Britain in 1967.

Mr. Greenwood

I expect about 400,000 new permanent dwellings to be completed, of which approximately half should be in the private sector.

Mr. Allason

Is not this very small increase over 1964—[HON. MEMBERS: "Sour grapes."]—extremely disappointing? Does the Minister still stick to his forecast of 500,000 houses a year by 1970? Had he not better speed up a hit?

Mr. Greenwood

The aim of the Government is to build 500,000 houses in 1970, roughly equally divided between the public and the private sectors. The hon. Member, who would be the last to be accused of sour grapes, will appreciate that in the first ten months of this year starts were over 60,000 up on the same period of last year, 28,000 in the public sector and 33,000 in the private sector.

Mr. Costain

Does the Minister recall the Prime Minister's promise to give more encouragement to private house building? Does he realise that the figure is 8,500 down? Does he expect this figure to be made up? Will he stop quoting the figures of starts, which were the result solely of the Land Commission Act?

Mr. Greenwood

The hon. Member will know that the number of completions in the private sector is down on last year because of the effects of the measures taken in July, 1966, but he is aware of the instructions given by the Bank of England about bridging finance. He also knows that the option mortgage scheme is coming into operation.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the first actions of the Conservative Party in Southampton on taking control of the council last May was to reduce the 1968 building programme from 1,800 houses to 800 houses a year?

Mr. Rippon

While regretting the poor rate of progress since 1964, in spite of the advantages of industrialised building, which should now be showing much better results than the Minister has announced, may I ask why he says that it is simply the Government's aim to produce 500,000 houses a year by 1970? Surely he remembers that the Prime Minister said that that was a pledge and not a lightly given promise.

Mr. Greenwood

As the hon. and learned Gentleman will recall, that figure was in our election manifesto. As to industrialised building, we are up to target. We are building through industrialised methods at the rate at which we expected to be building. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will remember that, in his commercial capacity, at the beginning of October he complained that the Government were building too many houses.

34. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many new homes he estimates will be completed in 1967 and in each of the three subsequent years; and if he will give an assurance that the improvement of more old houses by installing baths, hot water and inside water closets, will not result in any reduction in the target of 500,000 new homes a year, but that both increases will proceed as announced by the Government.

Mr. Greenwood

About 400,000 dwellings should be completed in Great Britain in 1967. The target of 500,000 houses in the United Kingdom in 1970 remains, but I am not prepared to make forecasts for each intervening year. Progress is not conditioned by the rate of improvement of older houses.

Mr. Allaun

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the 400,000 programme is in danger because many Conservative-controlled councils such as Manchester and Southampton are cutting down their programmes, which is a criminal thing to do?

Mr. Greenwood

Certainly I am prepared to consider the cases of any local authorities which are cutting down their housing programmes, and my colleagues and I will do everything in our power to ensure that this high rate of building is maintained, which has done great credit to local authorities during the past three years.