HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc5-6
5. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works in relation to 1969, how many houses in the aggregation he has advised producers of building materials, notably bricks, to budget for; what increase this represents in 1968, per centum and ad valorem; and what further steps he plans to take in 1969 to encourage the use of British-produced building materials.

Mr. Mellish

The Forecasting Committee of the E.D.C.s for Building and Civil Engineering estimated that the number of houses started in Great Britain in 1969 will be between 415,000 and 420,000. The Government think that this is a reasonable estimate for planning purposes. It represents practically no percentage change on the number of houses likely to be started in 1968, although there may be a marginal increase in the cost, owing to rising standards. I shall continue to urge designers and contractors to use British-produced materials where these are competitive with imported materials.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is this not a splendid opportunity comparable to the saving in imported foodstuffs, for example, to save in imports for the building and construction industries, notably with timber, and cannot the right hon. Gentleman do something more substantial than he has done already without resort to the bureaucracy?

Mr. Mellish

I do not know what all that means. Hardwood, for example, is giving way to such finishes as linoleum, vinyl, and where appropriate, asphalt. Chipboard is being used increasingly as a substitute for solid timber in flooring. The whole emphasis of the industry is moving away from that which we have to import to substitutes which are already available in this country but it does not happen overnight, and the industry must be given a chance to work it out.