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Building Controls

Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 4 July 1961

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13.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of his decision to restrict expenditure in this country, what proposals he has for taking powers to control the building industry.

21.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the continued deficit in the United Kingdom balance of payments and stagnation in industrial output, he will reintroduce building and other controls.

25.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an assurance that, in his consideration of methods of reducing expenditure, he will not take any steps to reintroduce building controls.

It is not the present intention of the Government to reintroduce building controls.

Is it not the case that on 22nd June the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that public expenditure was rising too fast, and that some necessary programmes would have to be cut? Would it be fair to do so while still leaving untouched what could, in the circumstances, be called frivolous expenditure on building?

It is not so much a question of cutting programmes; it is a question of restraining the increase in expenditure upon them. The question of the merits of building controls has frequently been debated. The point is whether the reinstitution of a very cumbersome machine, involving of itself a very considerable demand on manpower, is the right way to tackle the problem.

Is it not obvious that if the Government still had these powers in their hands they would be far better able to deal with the present crisis? In particular, is not the absence of control over office building in our great cities distorting a great deal of our employment policy all over the country and leaving all sorts of insoluble problems?

It is a question of pros and cons, and on the whole the cons outweigh the pros in regard to building licences.

May I assure my right hon. and learned Friend that his efforts—[HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] —will my right hon. and learned Friend take note that his efforts to resist these socialistic, bureaucratic controls will be widely welcomed throughout the land?

We shall want a debate on this subject before long, but will the Chancellor at any rate give an assurance that on this occasion the Government will not impose swingeing cuts on essential building within the public sector, especially on local authority building, while leaving uncontrolled relatively frivolous building in the private sector?

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that these matters are much better debated than dealt with by way of Question and Answer.

Would it not be a sufficient restraint if my right hon. Friend began to tax the profits which are being made free in this area?