asked the Minister of Health if he has now considered the housing programme for 1947 in the light of the industrial dislocation caused by the fuel crisis; and what effect this is likely to have on the number of houses to be built.
I have considered the housing programme for 1947 in the light of the conditions which have prevailed during the winter. The effect of these conditions both on building and even more on the production of building materials has been serious. It will reduce substantially the rates at which houses already under construction can be completed and, consequently, at which further houses can be started this year. I am including a full statement in the published monthly return which will be available in the Vote Office this afternoon.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House, or give us some idea, what will be the total number of completions this year?
I think that probably it will be as well for hon. Members to look at this statement in the monthly return. I was in this difficulty; that if I were to try to make a statement to the House after Questions on this very important matter it would be unduly long; but that if, on the other hand, I were to try to give a short answer it would be inadequate. I thought it was much better to make an addendum to the monthly return.
Does the right hon. Gentleman now realise how wise he was when he published the original programme to provide himself with alibis?
But then, I am always wise.
In view of the results of the industrial dislocation, will the right hon. Gentleman consider alter- ing the targets at the zonal conferences which took place to fix the time, as the targets appear to have been fixed on a mathematical basis?
They were, in fact, not targets at all, as the hon. and gallant Member knows. They were merely attempts to bring the allocations in a zonal area in reasonable relationship to the physical capacity of the building industry in that area. The allocations are not going to be affected.