§ 1. Mr. Blaker
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will now make a statement on the methods by which he proposes to safeguard the private house building programme from the effects of the devaluation of the £ sterling.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Anthony Greenwood)
The best safeguard for the private house building programme is a strong economy. This is what we are seeking to achieve. Option mortgages, and the 100 per cent. guarantee scheme will help private house builders by supporting the demand for home ownership.
§ Mr. Blaker
Does the Minister agree that the response to the option mortgage scheme has been slow, and that therefore the scheme is unlikely to have much effect in counteracting the result of devalua- 204 tion? Will he estimate by how much private house building this year will fall below the numbers achieved in 1964?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I do not agree with what the hon. Gentleman said in the first part of his supplementary question. Among existing borrowers, the figure opting is 5 per cent., and for new borrowers it is 11 per cent., which is just about what we expected. In reply to the second part of his supplementary question, I remind him that starts in the private sector went up by 40,000 last year, and last year and the signs are very promising for this year.