HC Deb 31 March 1971 vol 814 cc1469-70
1. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from local authorities and the building industry on the current levels of housing cost yardsticks; and if he will make a statement.

10. Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence has been submitted to his Department since the invitation to local authorities last May to comment on any aspect of the cost yardstick system; and whether, in the light of this evidence, he now considers alterations in the system are necessary.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Julian Amery)

I have received representations from the local authority associations and the building industry about the level and structure of the housing cost yardstick. These are currently being studied.

Mr. Chapman

As the housing cost yardstick would have to be increased by about 12 per cent. to maintain its real cost level as compared with July, 1967, does not my right hon. Friend agree that its present inadequacy is affecting the design, layout and standards of housing, and that because of this too many local authorities are negotiating ad hoc arrangements which are bringing the whole, over-complex system into disrepute?

Mr. Amery

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am very conscious of the point he has just made.

Mr. Finsberg

Is my right hon. Friend also conscious of the fact that the inordinate delay in bringing the yardstick up to date is not contributing to the success of the housing programme, although we bear in mind that its introduction was a major contributory factor in the slowing down of the housing programme under the last Government?

Mr. Amery

My hon. Friend will recognise that announcements about the yardstick, like announcements about Bank Rate, must be made at the moment when they are made and cannot be anticipated in discussion.

Mr. Arthur Jones

Does my right hon. Friend think that fixed-price tendering is significant in the question of the yardstick?

Mr. Amery

I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that our adherence to the policy of fixed-price tendering was one of the factors which enabled us to give the Budget which we gave yesterday.

Mr. Wellbeloved

What representations has the right hon. Gentleman received from the Greater London Council about the application of cost yardsticks to its Thamesmead development, where the costs are almost double the cost yardstick arrangements laid down by the Ministry?

Mr. Amery

If the hon. Gentleman would like to put down a Question on that specific point, I should be glad to answer it.