HC Deb 03 February 1970 vol 795 cc200-2
19. Mr. Peter Walker

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what estimate he has now made of the probable number of housing completions in 1970.

34. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will make a statement on the housebuilding programme for 1970.

65. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will estimate the number of starts and completions, respectively of new homes in 1970; and if he will take steps to improve the economic prospects of small-and medium-sized building firms.

Mr. Greenwood

As recent results have shown, the private sector in particular is very responsive to changes in economic conditions. Performance in 1970 will be affected by the speed with which housebuilding responds to the stimulus of an improving economy and the measures which the Government have taken. But small and medium size firms should benefit from improving conditions and from the growth in the work on improvement of older property which our new grant scheme will encourage.

Mr. Walker

Can the right hon. Gentleman now give an estimate?

Mr. Greenwood

I said in the House last week that I expect the outcome to be very much the same as 1969. It is much too early to be firm because of the imponderables, to which the private house builders have properly drawn my attention.

Mr. Farr

What effect has the right hon. Gentleman assessed the massive increase in building workers' wages—part of which came into effect at the beginning of this month and which will total 26 per cent. in a year—will have on his estimate?

Mr. Greenwood

That will not affect the total number of houses produced this year, which is largely dependent on the number in the pipeline and under construction at the end of last year. This was almost exactly the same as the number at the end of 1964, which hon. Gentlemen opposite have always held out as a sign of the healthy situation of the housing position under the Conservatives.

Mr. Frank Allaun

What emergency measures does my right hon. Friend intend to take? For example, will he restore the full £195 million per annum loans to local authorities to lend to people who cannot get building society mortgages?

Mr. Greenwood

I welcome my hon. Friend's interest in this problem. One of the difficulties about home loans this year has, of course, been the fact that a number of local authorities have not been able to get sufficient takers of loans to enable them to advance the full quota available to them. I suggest that we had better leave the figure at £100 million for the next financial year and see how things develop during the year. We have improved the Option Mortgage Scheme and the Government's Save-as-you-Earn Scheme has been welcomed by building societies and is making a substantial contribution.

Mr. John Hall

How many prefabricated houses are likely to be erected by local authorities in 1970?

Mr. Greenwood

If the hon. Gentleman tables a Question, I will gladly give him the answer.

Mr. Roebuck

Would the estimate for 1970 be higher if the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) did not go round the country advising Conservative-controlled councils to build fewer houses? Would my right hon. Friend undertake, if Conservative-controlled councils in the Greater London area continue, for reasons of party political spite, to be deaf to the cries of the homeless and badly housed, not to rule out the possibility of establishing a regional housing corporation to go into the boroughs and house the homeless?

Mr. Greenwood

I would not rule out anything that my hon. Friend suggests. I very much hope that, in their increasing propaganda, hon. Gentlemen opposite will draw attention to the rather bizarre views on housing of the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell).