HC Deb 04 April 1995 vol 257 cc1511-2
3. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are currently employed in the housebuilding industry. [16005]

Mr. Paice

Latest estimates show that there were 1.8 million people employed in the construction industry as a whole.

Mr. Winterton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply, but is he aware from a response that the Chancellor of the Exchequer made to me last Thursday that the housebuilding and construction sectors of our economy are in a very depressed state? Does my hon. Friend accept that there could be a dramatic multiplier effect if we could regenerate our construction and housebuilding sectors and that, if we did, we might get the feel-good factor sooner rather than later?

Mr. Paice

My hon. Friend is entirely right. There is, of course, a multiplier effect involving jobs in the construction industry but what would do the country immense damage would be any artificially inspired rise in house prices, which would lead us back into a cycle of inflation. We have seen an improvement in the housing market. Housing output last year was up by 6 per cent. on the previous year, a steady, albeit slow, improvement. That is the best way forward for the economy.

Mr. Barry Jones

Why do not the Government release council house sales receipts and employ more building workers?

Mr. Paice

For the very simple reason that it would go straight on the bottom line of public borrowing.

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