asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what details he has received about the number of private houses for sale likely to be started in Great Britain in 1965, and the number likely to be started in 1966.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what information he has about the number of private houses for sale likely to be started in Great Britain in 1965, and the number likely to be started in 1966.
I expect private builders in Great Britain to start about 210,000 houses by the end of 1965 and about 230,000 to 240,000 in 1966, almost all of them for sale.
Is the Minister aware that that is not a very satisfactory answer? Does not he think that when there is a growing desire by people to own their own houses and a growing ability to be able to own them, it is most disturbing that his policy is working in the reverse direction?
I am not at all aware of it and I do not think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will find that to be true. We are determined to increase the number of houses started and completed for owner-occupation and have a steady improvement throughout the next four-year period.
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the figures given for 1965 are about 10 per cent. below those for 1964? Does not that mean that we are going backwards?
There were 37,000 fewer starts this year than last year. According to the builders, and I accept their analysis, one difficulty was the problem of land. The other was the shortage of mortgage finance caused by difficulties which we had last spring—difficulties now overcome and with record investments now available.
Is not it the plain fact that in their period of office the last Government said that they were going to put first priority on slum clearance but that they cut public housing by 50 per cent.? Is not it a fact that the only way to give a clear priority to the clearing of the rotten parts of cities is by stepping up massively public sector housing in this way?
What steps is the Minister taking to make up for the backlog, to use his own phrase, resulting from houses lost this year?
We have already made up in terms of mortgage advances, and after consultation with the building societies and the builders I see no reason for difficulties on that side in pushing forward and increasing starts next year.