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Housing Programmes

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many local authorities have been informed that their completion rate has been so exceptional that their future housing programme must be reduced.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that his answer is completely inaccurate? In a letter sent to me in May the Minister made it quite clear that because of the exceptional progress the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth had made its housing programme was to be cut. If that is so, why does the Parliamentary Secretary now say, something completely contradictory?

It is a very curious use of language to call the Lambeth housing allocation a cut. In 1952, 78 houses were built; in 1953, 211, and in 1954 an estimated figure of 600 houses. At the end of May the borough had 758 houses under construction with another 507 approved but not started, giving 1,265 in hand.

Are we to understand that the policy of the Government is to build all the houses they can—the more the merrier? Why is it that this Labour majority on the Lambeth Borough Council is going to be punished for its energy in building more and more houses? Why are the Government stopping it from building more and more houses?

I should think that the Lambeth Borough Council will be gratified to know that in 1954 they have in hand six times the number of 1951 completions when the right hon. Gentleman and his party were in power.

Is the hon. Gentleman not now doing what the Government are persistently doing, namely, trying to claim credit to this Government for the activities of a Labour majority. [Interruption.] I do not think the hon. Gentleman needs the assistance of the Financial Secretary, though he is a "smart alec."

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to refer to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary in such an opprobious term as a "smart alec"?

The term is new to me. I do not think it is English, but until I have had it defined to me, I would not know whether it is in order or not.

Is it not the case that the Government are claiming the credit for the achievements of the local authority which happens to have a Labour majority? [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am not withdrawing. Because a Labour local authority has made an eminent success of its housing programme, why should the Government step in and stop it?

I was merely trying to answer a Question and not claim any credit. It is curious, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman at some time will explain to the House why this Labour Council did not do so well under a Labour Government?