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Volume 480: debated on Thursday 9 November 1950

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asked the Minister of Health how many three-bedroom, two-bedroom and one-bedroom houses have been built since 1945; and whether he proposes any change in this ratio.

The numbers of dwellings of three, two and one bedrooms completed by local authorities up to 30th September, 1950, are 399,328, 75,141 and 24,518 respectively. Local authorities are, on my advice, now building substantially larger proportions of one and two-bedroom dwellings.

Would my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of greatly extending the number of two-bedroom houses, especially if they can be so designed that a third bedroom can be added at a later date?

As hon. Members in all parts of the House probably know, I called the attention of local authorities to this a very long time ago. My Central Housing Advisory Committee has issued advice on this matter, and last year I sent out a special and urgent circular on the question.

Is not the Minister aware of the difficulties which certain local authorities are experiencing in getting permission from his regional officers? Will he circularise his own regional officers about this?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is completely wrong. I have reported to the House of Commons about this. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not aware of it I will send him a copy of HANSARD, from which he will see that it has been made clear for a very long time indeed that the regional office does not control the design and nature of the dwellings put up by local authorities but only makes an examination to see whether the tenders are unreasonably high.

Does the local authority get a numerical increase in its housing allocation if it builds a high proportion of small houses? If not, would it not be a good idea to encourage them to build larger numbers of smaller houses?

The idea is that the local authorities should build the sort of houses that the various family groups require. That means that quite often four-bedroom houses are required as well as two bedrooms and one bedroom.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Haire) now supports a proposal which he himself voted against the other night?

That is, of course, to assume that we are hearing of one-bedroom and two-bedroom houses for the first time. As I have already shown, we have built 75,000 two-bedroom houses and over 24,000 one-bedroom houses. The Opposition are only wakening up to the facts of what has already been done.

Would the Minister agree that that circular which he sent out last year would have had a greater effect if the allocation to the local authorities were by cash rather than the number of houses?

That is a much wider question. All that this Question asks is how many houses were built.