HC Deb 03 February 1970 vol 795 cc190-1
4. Mr. Rossi

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what recent representations he has received from the Federation of Registered House Builders regarding the difficulties of obtaining bank loans to finance housing construction; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Freeson

Members of the Federation of Registered House Builders have raised this question with my right hon. Friend and with Ministry officials on a number of occasions. He has explained that, within the overriding limits on lending, the banks have complete discretion over how they treat the construction industry, as it neither enjoys special priority nor is subject to special restriction.

Mr. Rossi

Is the hon. Gentleman genuinely concerned to see more houses built in this country? Does he realise that until he gives priority credit facilities to builders he will not see this done?

Mr. Freeson

My right hon. Friend is not responsible for decisions over priorities concerning credit facilities. The general question has been raised on a number of occasions in the past and it has been answered in terms of the general economic position.

I think that the general query is superfluous. My right hon. Friend and I have been concerned with getting more houses built in this country for many years, not excluding the hon. Gentleman's district.

Mr. John Fraser

Does my hon. Friend realise that the Treasury or the banks need a kick in the pants because some builders are finding real difficulty in getting advances? I do not blame the Government, but the banks do not seem to understand the urgency or their rights of priority in lending to builders.

Mr. Freeson

If my hon. Friend will give me specific information it will be helpful in further consideration of the matter. However, it is only fair to point out that at the end of November, 1969, advances to builders stood at £372 million compared with the highest quarterly figure reached in 1968 of £373 million. It appears from those figures that, although there may be difficulties, they are being somewhat exaggerated.