HC Deb 03 March 1970 vol 797 cc242-4
12. Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will make a further statement on the house-building programme for 1970.

19. Sir F. Bennett

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what is his revised estimate of the number of new dwellings to be built during 1970.

90. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will make a further statement on the 1970 house-building programme.

Mr. Greenwood

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave on 3rd February to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) and the hon. Members for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) and Harborough (Mr. Farr)—[Vol. 795, c. 200–2.]

Mr. Morrison

Is there any truth in the reports that the Government are about to introduce a 100 per cent. mortgage scheme as advocated by this side of the House for the last three years?

Mr. Greenwood

Local authorities for a long time have had the power to introduce 100 per cent. mortgages, and the Housing Act 1967 further helped them in that direction.

Mr. Allaun

Are the Government now considering restoring the full £195 million a year loans to local authorities to grant mortgages? Surely they could be afforded now, since they are Government loans, not grants?

Mr. Greenwood

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for his tribute to Government progress in restoring the economy of the country. However, we ought to wait a little longer before making any announcement about the extension of a new loans scheme, although I would like to do so.

13. Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will make a statement about the decline in the number of approvals recently given for local authority housing.

42. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is satisfied with the number of new houses started during January 1970; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeson

My right hon. Friend is concerned over the decline in the level of local authority housing contracts and starts. I am visiting 20 or more priority area authorities to press for increased building, slum clearance and general improvement area programmes.

Mr. Morrison

What increases in the cost of local authority land for housing have occurred over the last two years?

Mr. Freeson

I could not give the figure offhand, but there has been considerable help by Government to local authorities which have to buy land at high cost by way of expensive site sub-stales. Therefore, there is no reason why local authorities which are having to pay market prices for land should hold back on house building. They are being assisted to a greater level than ever before by Government subsidy.

Mr. Roebuck

Could my hon. Friend say whether he has had any success in persuading Conservative-controlled local authorities to ignore the advice given to them by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) to the effect that they ought not to build council houses for all sorts of seemingly good purposes? In particular, will he see whether he can bring the Conservative-controlled Borough of Harrow to a better understanding of its responsibilities? Is he aware that the council put out no tenders for house building in 1969?

Mr. Freeson

I am aware that the Harrow Council did not put out any tenders during 1969. So far I regret to say it has refused to meet me to discuss the housing situation in Harrow. I regret to say that there are still far too many councils among those I have visited, as well as others, which are unnecessarily and quite wrongly cutting back on their house building programme no doubt encouraged by spokesmen, and indeed leading spokesmen, on the other side of the House.

Mr. Peter Walker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the misquotation that both he and the Prime Minister have used I made it perfectly clear that we want many more council houses built for good social purposes? But what we also want is that existing tenants of council houses should be allowed to buy them.

Mr. Freeson

The hon. Gentleman cannot wriggle out of this one. He has stated on a number of occasions—[Interruption.]

Mr. Walker

Quote me.

Mr. Freeson

I will—that there should be a curb on council house building, and I am quoting. The hon. Gentleman and other Members on the other side of the House have been busy in this place and in other places seeking to discourage local authorities from building houses. They cannot have it both ways. Are we to have from them a call for a reduction by half in council house building, as was our experience under the Conservative Government, at the same time as they were calling for an increased slum clearance programme?