HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc33-4
46. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what was the cost of the recent investigation of council house rents.

Mr. Harold Walker

I regret the information is not available. The cost of the investigation cannot be separated from the cost of other work on which the Board was simultaneously engaged without a disproportionate expenditure of time.

Mr. Ridsdale

Can the hon. Gentleman say what the cost of the whole project was, and what purpose was achieved by the inquiry?

Mr. Walker

The answer to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question is that the achievement was the Report of the N.B.P.I., which was subsequently acted upon, giving a great deal of satisfaction to many thousands of council house tenants. With regard to the first part of his question, the staff of the Board are engaged simultaneously on a number of issues, and the issues on which they are employed cannot be segregated without a considerable expenditure in time.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is it not the case that, but for the Report, Tory councils all over the country would have raised rents even higher than they have done at the moment?

Mr. Walker

Of course.

Mr. R. Carr

How can the hon. Gentleman justify not being able to give this cost in view of the fact that the National Board for Prices and Incomes is constantly telling the people it inquires into that they should have proper project costing systems?

Mr. Walker

I thought that the right hon. Gentleman had heard the first time when I said that the staff of the Board were engaged concurrently on a number of references. Of course, it would be possible to segregate and cost the times involved as separate references, but we do not feel that that is justified and that it would probably cost almost as much as the Report itself cost to produce.

Mr. Ridsdale

On a point of order. In view of the Minister's unsatisfactory reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.