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Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he has considered the letter, dated 27th April, from Oakengates Urban District Council to his Birmingham regional office protesting against his limitation of new dwellings, both local authority and private enterprise, during 1954 to 118; and if he will enable the council to prepare their planned programme of housing and slum clearance by an immediate relaxation of the notified maximum of 118 for 1954, or of the number permitted for 1955 and 1956, since the 1954 limit of 118 will produce an inevitable suspension of building before the end of 1954 and a resumption some time after the commencement of 1955.

The council now have in hand more houses than they have completed in any year since the war, and their completions this year should also be a record. Their current programme will leave some work for them to carry over into next year, but I will bear in mind the council's representations in determining what should be their programme for 1955.

While thanking the Minister for that answer, I would ask him if he is aware that it will take many more years of record house-building to solve the housing problem in this particular part? May I further ask him to bear in mind the almost insuperable difficulty in which the council will be placed if the maximum number of houses which the right hon. Gentleman has fixed for this year, namely, 118, is completed two or three months before the end of the year and the council are not aware of the number to be permitted for next year so as to make the necessary arrangements to prevent a gap?

Oh, yes, I quite understand that point. These are the figures up to the present: In the year of grace 1951 the completions were 25; in 1952 they were 53; in 1953 they were 97, and in 1954 the council will complete 118, about five times the number nearly three years ago. If there should be some possibility of increasing allocations towards the end of the summer, I shall be in touch with the council to make sure that they have plenty of work for the 1955 programme.