HC Deb 25 November 1970 vol 807 cc407-8
14. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future of the house-building programmes in the public and private sectors, respectively; and what is his estimate of the approximate rise or fall in the numbers started in each sector in 1971 and 1972.

Mr. Amery

Measures already taken by the Government to help the building industry and to reform housing finance should benefit both the public and private sectors. But I am not prepared to make even approximate quantitative forecasts.

Mr. Allaun

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last night the Chancellor, in a written reply, told me that he would not relax restrictions on bank loans to private builders? Does not this inevitably mean further closure of such firms and a further serious reduction in the number of houses built for sale?

Mr. Amery

It is a fact that, already, the graph of house building in the private sector is rising fairly steeply, but I am sure that hon. Members on both sides—particularly in the Labour Party—will appreciate the great risk which attends an attempt to set any targets.

Mr. Marsh

How long will the right hon. Gentleman go on saying that he can give this House no estimates, however approximate? Is it not now becoming obvious that the Tory Party used this as a political issue in the election and that in fact they have no proposals at all?

Mr. Amery

With some experience of pilgrimages in the political wilderness, may I take this first opportunity that I have had to welcome the return of the right hon. Gentleman to the Front Bench? I should have thought, after the experience which his party and the Front Bench, which he had then left, had over predictions of 500,000 houses, that he would surely chide me as being very rash if I were to make any equivalent comparison.