HC Deb 31 March 1971 vol 814 cc1494-5
34. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to establish a central housing authority for Greater London.

Mr. Amery

No, Sir.

Mr. Fraser

Is the Minister aware that cheap cracks from the Government Front Bench do not help the housing programme and that the number of starts bears no relationship to the housing need in London? Will he announce his intention to step in—in place of failing authorities in London, no matter which they may be—to ensure that houses get built, because housing lists are already far too long?

Mr. Amery

The hon. Gentleman is a good judge of cheap cracks. The record of his own borough, which has built more than 4,000 houses in the last five years and which plans to build nearly 6,000 more by 1974, does not suggest that the boroughs are unable to tackle the problem successfully.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this year the G.L.C. will have over 16,000 new lettings, which is an increase of 36 per cent. over the last year in which Labour controlled the G.L.C.?

Mr. Amery

My hon. Friend is right. I am satisfied that the G.L.C., the boroughs, private enterprise and the housing associations between them form the best combination for tackling this serious problem.

Mrs. Renée Short

Is the Minister aware that the fall in the number of housing starts is not confined to Greater London but is being experienced in every large town and city? Will he consider the recommendation contained in the 1968 Report of the Estimates Committee for the setting up of a house building corporation or association to build houses in all parts of the country where the local authorities are either unwilling or unable to do so for whatever reason? Further, may I remind the Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Hon. Members opposite are very impatient today. I remind the Minister that that was an all-party Committee and not a Committee composed only of Labour Members.

Mr. Amery

I take the hon. Lady's point. The Question is about London. I will gladly receive any representations from her about any other areas which she thinks should be considered separately.