HC Deb 04 December 1974 vol 882 cc1548-9
23. Mr. Terry Walker

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with current levels of local authority housebuilding.

Mr. Crosland

No, Sir, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Carter) and Bols-over (Mr. Skinner) on 13th November 1974.—[Vol. 881, c. 382–4.]

Mr. Walker

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but does he not agree that all our energies must be channelled into local authority building? Will he impress upon local authorities the need for emergency measures to be taken to reduce housing waiting lists? Whenever hon. Members hold a surgery they are all badgered by people expressing the need for more local authority housing.

Mr. Crosland

Sir, as I have told the House before, I am urgently considering what further initiatives the Government may take to encourage local authority house building, but I must add that, while I agree that that is the No. 1 priority, I also want to encourage private house building.

Mr. Ridley

Is it not the fact that every council house which is built causes immense public subsidies to flow and has the effect of putting up the rates even more? Now that the two General Elections are over, what does the right hon. Gentleman intend to do about increasing council house rents and reinstituting the Housing Finance Act and the Housing (Financial Provisions) Scotland Act, which were moving towards making people who live in council houses pay the true economic cost of them—and why should they not?

Mr. Crosland

On the first point, I fear that the hon. Gentleman's knowledge must be confined to reading the speeches of his right hon. Friends. The figures constantly used during the election campaign— quoted from the Housing Research Foundation—as to the relative cost to the taxpayer of a new council house and a new owner-occupied house, were grossly misleading. In reply to the second point, relating to what we propose to do about rents, the hon. Gentleman does not follow our procedures very closely, otherwise he would know that the Housing Rents and Subsidies Bill is now in Committee.

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