HC Deb 16 February 1977 vol 926 c481
Mr. Terry Walker

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will review his policy on future council house building.

Mr. Freeson

We aim to make the provision of housing more responsive to detailed local needs. That includes maintaining a high priority for council house building programmes and concentrating activity where housing needs are greatest.

Mr. Walker

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. May I draw to his attention the fact that unless building land is available now for councils to acquire, there will be a shortage of houses to rent in the future, when this land will not be available?

Mr. Freeson

I certainly accept that there must be more advanced programming of land assembly for this purpose. My understanding of the position, which was examined very carefully most recently in the latter part of last year, but not for the first time, is that this was not a problem that was facing local authorities. If there are particular problems in my hon. Friend's locality of which he is aware, I shall be glad to receive details.

Mr. Rossi

Will the Minister ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to use his influence to ensure that the report of the Building Economic Development Council, which the Secretary of State has in his possession, is published in full and without delay, as it apparently contains important evidence on the question of the subsidy cost of new council house building? Does he not accept that any suggestion of suppression or censorship of this report will be bitterly resented not only by this House but by those who are concerned with the truth underlying the real problems relating to housing in this country?

Mr. Freeson

No doubt my right hon. Friend has heard the rather odd way in which that question has been put to him.

Forward to