HC Deb 17 June 1968 vol 766 cc675-6
1 and 2. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works (1) why he has raised the building licence exemption limit from £50,000 to £100,000; and to which categories of buildings this change applies;

(2) whether, in view of present economic circumstances, and following his decision to raise the exemption limit, he will now abolish building controls.

The Minister of Public Building and Works (Mr. Robert Mellish)

I have raised the cost exemption limit from £50,000 to £100,000 because I consider that the forecast of demand on the construction industry during the next 18 months warrants this alleviation. I do not propose to abolish building controls because some restraint is necessary and more may well be essential when the rise in demand steepens as I expect it to do in 1969 and 1970.

The change in the cost exemption limit applies to all categories of work subject to control under the Act.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is not the raising of this exemption limit a manifest of the huge inflation which is occurring today in building costs? Why is the right hon. Gentleman now retreating from the shibboleths of Socialism which dictate detailed control in all building operations?

Mr. Mellish

I do not think the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) is an advocate of Socialist principles. I do not think he knows anything about them or is in a position to tell me or my hon. Friends about them. I have raised the limit because I thought it would help the industry, and to the best of my knowledge, it is welcomed by the industry.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Does this mean that it is now Government policy to encourage the building of casinos in accordance with the decadent policy of a national lottery?

Mr. Mellish

The whole object of keeping these controls on is to ensure that the kind of thing the hon. and learned Member referred to is not built. My experience in the last 12 months has led me to believe that raising the limit from £50,000 to £100,000 is quite justified.