HC Deb 14 April 1970 vol 799 cc1187-8
4. Mr. Rossi

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works by what percentage output in the construction industry fell in 1969 compared with 1968; and to what factors he attributes the decline.

28. Mr. Kirk

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what rise in output he expects from the construction industry in 1970 compared with 1969.

Mr. John Silkin

In real terms, out-put of new work in 1969 was about 3 per cent. lower than in 1968. There was an increase in non-housing work, but this was offset by the fall in housing. In 1970, I expect output of new work to be not less than it was in 1969. I am confident that the measures recently announced by the Government will help house building in the private sector.

Mr. Rossi

Will the Minister now admit that the decline in output in the public housing sector last year was 10 per cent. more than the decline in the private sector? What will he do to help this very hard-pressed industry?

Mr. Silkin

A number of measures on private house building, of which I think the hon. Gentleman is aware, have recently been announced. I have every reason to believe that the raising of the ceiling on local authority mortgages to £155 million, together with the further resources now available to the housing corporations and the Save-As-You-Earn Scheme, will increase the number of houses built, though I must add that the number is very much higher than it was when the Opposition were in office.

Mr. Allason

Has not the small builder lost his proper share of the house-building programme? Cannot the Minister do something to help the small builder in this?

Mr. Silkin

It is the small builder who has suffered more than the medium and large builders, but the measures to which I referred a moment ago will be of direct help to him.