HC Deb 03 February 1970 vol 795 cc186-7
1. Mr. Winnick

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what further steps he intends to take in regard to those local authorities who are not building sufficient council dwellings.

66. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what further steps he now proposes to take regarding those local authorities which are not building the required number of council dwellings.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Anthony Greenwood)

My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and I are at present holding discussions with a number of priority housing authorities whose programmes have slowed down. We are considering action to overcome, the difficulties which visits, and other indications, have revealed but I have no statement to make at present. I hope that even now these authorities will reverse their decisions to cut back their programmes in view of the pressing need for more homes in their areas.

Mr. Winnick

Can my right hon. Friend now say whether the Government intend to make any announcement about a house building agency along the lines recommended by a Select Committee, which we on this side of the House would welcome? Will he also say whether the London boroughs and the G.L.C. are being told that there can be no justification for any reduction in council house building?

Mr. Greenwood

Wherever necessary, we make the point which my hon. Friend make towards the end of his rather lengthy supplementary question. As for a house building agency, I appreciate his interest and it could well be a fruitful method of dealing with these matters. However, it would not produce any immediate result, nor would it make an immediate contribution to the present difficulties.

Mr. Allaun

Does not my right hon. Friend already possess such powers to require building under the little-known Section 91 of the 1957 Housing Act? Will he use those powers?

Mr. Greenwood

As my hon. Friend suggests, I have those powers under Section 91. However, it is a lengthy procedure. It means, for example, a public inquiry. Again, I do not think that the adoption of this method would make an immediate contribution, although it is a useful weapon to have in reserve in one's locker.

Mr. Rosssi

Will the Minister look at the yardstick costing procedure within his Department to see whether this can be expedited?

Mr. Greenwood

We look at it constantly. We have had a number of discussions with local authorities. I am not aware of any immediate difficulties arising from it. I think that most difficulties have been ironed out. If the hon. Gentleman has any cases, I will look at them.