HC Deb 07 July 1971 vol 820 cc1320-1
16. Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total value, seasonally adjusted and at constant prices, of new orders received by contractors during the first quarter of 1971; and what percentage difference this represents relative to the figure for the corresponding quarter of 1970.

Mr. Amery

According to provisional figures collected by the Department, the value of new orders obtained by contractors in the first quarter of 1971 was £680 million at constant (1963) prices seasonally adjusted. This represents an increase of 3 per cent. over the first quarter of 1970.

Mr. Finsberg

Is my right hon. Friend—to whom all of us on this side of the House pay tribute as against the complacency shown by the right hon. Members who sit on the Opposition Front Bench—satisfied with this figure? What further attempts will he make to help the building industry to get on with the job of housing the people, which is its job and not the Government's job?

Mr. Amery

I am not satisfied. We must do a great deal better. But there is a marked improvement in private sector housing. There is a marked improvement in public works—roads, schools and hospitals. There is a marked improvement in shops and offices. We have not yet achieved the improvement which we seek in industrial building or in the public sector, although I think that that will come when we announce, with the reform of housing finance, the improved grants for slum clearance.

Mr. Freeson

Whatever view may be taken about the future White Paper on housing finance, the proposals in it are not likely to take effect for another couple of years. What does the Minister propose to do to increase public sector local authority housing in the meantime, because that is the kind of housing which will help the constituents of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) and my constituents?

Mr. Amery

I am already in the happy position of being able to say that public sector housing has not gone down in the way it did in the last two years of the previous Administration.

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