§ Mr. Cant
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he pro- 32W poses to have further talks with the building societies with a view to moderating the increase in house prices in 1978;
(2) whether he will publish his estimate of the supply of and demand for new houses for sale in 1978, and state the estimated increase in 1978 in the cost of the average new home in the West Midlands which was £11,000 in 1977.
§ Mr. Freeson
The November private enterprise housing inquiry indicates that builders then expected to start 150,000 private houses in 1978. Prospects for sales should be good in view of the lowering of mortgage interest rates and the continuing flow of adequate mortgage finance. House prices—new and secondhand—in the United Kingdom last year rose by about 8 per cent.; a rather higher increase may be expected this year.
The Joint Advisory Committee on Building Society Mortgage Finance is closely monitoring the level of lending for house purchase with particular reference to the trends in house prices. This matter has been discussed with representatives of the BSA, and I am satisfied that building societies are fully aware of the need to avoid excessive house price increases.