HC Deb 28 July 1971 vol 822 cc551-2
6. Mr. Costain

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is aware of the continuing concern amongst local authorities at the level of the housing cost yardstick; and whether he will introduce a more regular system of monitoring costs than exists at present.

Mr. Amery

I appreciate that local authorities are concerned that the yardstick should be kept at a reasonable level. The yardstick is already under continuous review.

Mr. Costain

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that the fact that he is asking for a two-year fixed price contract may be adding to the costs which builders are putting in? Now that the C.B.I, has agreed to a 5 per cent. limit, would it not be more sensible, and result in more reasonable prices, if he adopted the same procedure?

Mr. Amery

I am inclined to think that the measures announced by the Chancellor and the recommendations of the C.B.I. will make firm price tendering as a policy a little more acceptable to the industry than it has been hitherto—and that only time will tell.

Mr. Cant

While everybody wants to see price restraint in this area as elsewhere, would the Minister not accept that the housing cost yardstick plus the two-year firm price tendering regulations might have a very serious effect on the quality especially of council houses? As these have been leaders in house building, will he keep this under review?

Mr. Amery

This matter will certainly be kept under review and will be watched carefully. So far I see no signs of deterioration in quality or any reluctance to tender.

Mr. Allason

As there is distinct disquiet in the G.L.C. on this matter, may I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the differentials that exist between London and various other areas and try to help at least London?

Mr. Amery

Official discussions are at present going on with the G.L.C.

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