HC Deb 08 March 1984 vol 55 cc982-3
15. Mr. Heddle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what evidence he has indicating that the construction industry is benefiting from the economic recovery.

Mr. Hayhoe

Figures available so far for 1983 show that construction industry output increased by about 3.5 per cent., with new orders rising by about 13 per cent.

Mr. Heddle

Does my hon. Friend agree that, notwithstanding those encouraging signs, there is concern throughout the construction industry that the European Community might in future levy VAT on non-domestic construction work? Will he confirm that the Government are united in their resolve to resist that at all costs?

Mr. Hayhoe

My hon. Friend had an interesting Adjournment debate only last week, when I made the Government's position abundantly clear.

Mr. Evans

Does the Minister agree that one way to benefit the construction industry is to make hundreds of millions of pounds available to local authorities so that they can repair and renovate the many industrialised housing sites that are literally falling down?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is well aware of that matter, but if local authorities spent less in wasteful current expenditure more money would be available for capital spending.

Mr. Allan McKay

Does the Minister believe that the Government's rate-capping proposals will help the construction industry, and if so, how?

Mr. Hayhoe

That matter would be best put to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Nellist

In view of the Chancellor's encouraging remarks this afternoon—from his point of view—will he give the House an estimated date when the 400,000 unemployed construction workers will be back at work building and renovating houses and ensuring that the 6 million people living in damp properties have decent homes to live in?

Mr. Hayhoe

As I have said, if local authorities were more careful and increased the efficiency of their current account spending, more funds would be available for such projects. As Government policies are leading to economic recovery in the country as a whole, that will also benefit the construction industry.