HC Deb 20 December 1972 vol 848 cc1315-7
19. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the average price of a new house sold and the average size of mortgages arranged in the first quarter of 1971 and the third quarter of 1972, respectively.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Paul Channon)

The average price of new private dwellings mortgaged with building societies was £5,462 in the first quarter of 1971 and £7,899 in the third quarter of 1972. Corresponding average mortgage advances are estimated to have been about £4,100 and £5,800 respectively.

Mr. Hardy

Does not that answer show that the Minister's Department has presided over one of the worst aspects of the most vicious inflation in British history, so that hundreds of thousands of people are bearing crippling burdens of debt? Will he now abandon the claim that the ordinary worker on ordinary earnings can purchase a new house? If such a worker could purchase his own house in 1970, he certainly cannot do so in 1972.

Mr. Channon

No; I cannot accept what the hon. Gentleman says. All of us deplore the rise in house prices but, in spite of that rise, the number of people who obtain mortgages as first time purchasers has increased, the number of those under 25 who obtain mortgages has increased, building society lending is up and the amount of advances has also increased.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Does my hon. Friend realise that one of the most important factors in the regrettable rise in the cost of houses arises from the difficulty in obtaining planning permission on existing sites? This is particularly true of rural constituencies. Will the Minister do all he can to expedite the granting of planning permissions, which should be granted rather than that reasons should be put forward against them?

Mr. Channon

I appreciate what my hon. and gallant Friend says, and I am anxious that planning permissions should be granted in the speediest possible time.

Mr. Crosland

The figures are appalling and the Minister knows it. Since he frequently tells the House that one way of dealing with the situation is to build more houses, will he now explain the extraordinary fact that in the White Paper on Public Expenditure, which was published yesterday, the amount to be spent on housing in the next five years is to decrease below its present appallingly low level.

Mr. Channon

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the question is related to the average prices of new houses sold—that is to say, houses in the private sector. He will be pleased to learn that the figures of starts and completions in the private sector are substantially up on 1970 and 1971.

Mr. Walter Johnson

Does not the Minister realise that the enormous increase in house prices will be regarded as the scandal of 1972? Will he or his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment ask the building societies to stop granting second mortgages and also to look into the enormous amount of money lent to land developers?

Mr. Channon

The best way of dealing with house prices in a situation where demand has been increasing is to increase the supply of private sector houses. I have already told the House that both starts and completions are substantially up.