HC Deb 25 November 1970 vol 807 cc411-2
38. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Environment what was the value at constant prices of housebuilding output in each of the past three years; and what estimate he has made of the value of housebuilding output in 1970.

Mr. Amery

The value of output at constant prices in new housebuilding in the last three years was £1,112 million in 1967, £1,154 million in 1968 and £1,028 million in 1969. The figure for 1970 is expected to be lower than in 1969, but I would rather await the actual out-turn than give an estimate.

Mr. Rost

Will my right hon. Friend be surprised when he discovers that the figures for 1970 are likely to show a decline in house-building of at least 10 per cent.? Will not that be further evidence of the previous Government's dismal and disgraceful failure in housing? How soon can we expect the present Administration to reverse this trend?

Mr. Amery

I am not surprised, because I note that the former Minister for Public Building and Works in the last Administration forecast that the total value of work done in 1970 is likely to be less than in 1969 but that a rise in the level of activity would follow a rise in the level of completions in the private sector. There is an improvement in the private sector. I hope that this will help to correct the fall that we inherited in the public sector under the previous Administration.

Mrs. Renée Short

Will the Minister get his head out of the sand and look a little further than 1970—to 1974, when, if he looks at the evidence produced, he will see that the numbers will fall still further because almost 80 Tory-controlled local authorities will have stopped building by then? What will he do about that situation?

Mr. Amery

My right hon. Friends and I look forward to 1974 or 1975 with complete confidence.