HC Deb 06 February 1968 vol 758 cc230-1
Q6. Mr. Chichester-Clark

asked the Prime Minister what reply he has sent to a letter sent to him by the National Federation of Building Trade Employers regarding the effect of devaluation on the building programme; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Member is referring to the letter sent to me by the Federation shortly after devaluation, my reply noted a difference between their and the Government's estimates of the effect of devaluation on building costs and drew attention to the importance of maintaining a policy of firm prices in the building industry in view of the stabilising effect of such a policy on the economy as a whole. Since then, of course, the Federation and other organisations connected with the building and civil engineering industries have been discussing these matters with those of my right hon. Friends concerned.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Does the Prime Minister agree that the price of a three bedroomed house will go up by £350 in 1968 as a result of devaluation, S.E.T. and the Land Commission?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will be aware of the Answer given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works. He estimated that the effect of devaluation on imported materials would be to increase the cost of building an average house by about 1½ per cent. I am aware that the building employers contest this figure. They can discuss it, of course, with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Clegg

Has the Prime Minister yet decided which local authorities are to have their programmes cut as a result of devaluation?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to my statement of 16th January and to what was said on this subject by my right hon. Friends in the debate which followed.

Mrs. Renée Short

Is there not a case for stricter control of unnecessary imports for the building industry and the substitution of home-produced materials?

The Prime Minister

Wherever this can be done, of course, it is now much more financially worth while to do it. I am sure that those in the building materials industry and the building industry will do all they can in that respect, but there is a limit to substitution by British produced materials—timber, for example—for those which are imported. In other cases, there is an incentive to substitute British produced materials.