HC Deb 12 May 1970 vol 801 cc1042-3
7. Mr. Jeffrey Archer

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will make a further statement on the present brick stockpile.

15. Mr. Speed

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what action he now proposes to take to reduce brick stocks from their present high levels.

Mr. John Silkin

At the end of March stocks of bricks were 1,124 million. As I said in the House last month, I expect the industry to benefit progressively from the measures announced by the Government to stimulate the housebuilding programme.—[Vol. 799, c.198.]

Mr. Archer

Does the Minister agree that this is another Labour record, a record glut? Will he be kind enough to explain the remarks of his right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) about " planning the bricks "?

Mr. Silkin

I find the present brick stocks far too high. On that I think the hon. Member and I would agree. Nevertheless, the fact remains that as demand increases so the surplus is shown in its true capacity. I am seeing members of the Brick Development Association tomorrow and I think they will point out that if there were a great expansion now what appears to be a large glut might not be so large.

Mr. Speed

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that stocks of bricks this spring have been the highest in our history? Will he confirm that the brick manufacturers probably believed the Prime Minister in his remarks about the National Plan and expansion which never came about?

Mr. Silkin

Certainly the brick glut, or stockpile, at the moment is the highest there has been. As to the second part of the hon. Member's question, it is certainly higher than it ought to have been, but I noticed that Sir Ronald Stewart, Chairman of the London Brick Company, was quoted in the Financial Times on 6th May as saying that there are signs of strenthening in demand.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the infusion of many new Labour councillors to the local authorities will do a great deal to expand local authority building?

Mr. Silkin

I think that if we go on like this there will be more Labour councillors than there are bricks.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

In view of the Prime Minister's pledge to plan the bricks and the fact that the target of the National Plan has been missed by no less than 33 per cent., can the right hon. Gentleman say whether we are likely to have on television a pledge to plan the bricks or not to plan the bricks this time?

Mr. Silkin

I think that if the hon. Member waits, let us say, until the end of the year he will find that the brick situation is very satisfactory to all parties.