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Local Authority And Private Housing (Building Ratio)

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 16 November 1965

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government upon what criteria he based his decision to impose a 50:50 ratio between local authorities and private enterprise in the building of houses.

The criterion upon which I adjudged it necessary to achieve an annual output of 250,000 rented houses by 1970 was acute social need. There is no question of imposing a 50:50 ratio. The balance between building for letting and building for owner-occupation will be kept under regular review in the discussions in which representatives of the builders and building societies have agreed to join.

What right has the Minister to set himself up as a judge in these matters? Will he bear in mind that the great majority of the people do not want to remain council tenants all their lives? They want the sense of independence and security which home ownership brings and which is being actively discouraged by the Government at present.

I appreciate the demand for home ownership. However, it is not the right but the duty of a Minister of Housing to decide what amount of our housing resources should be allocated to houses to be let by councils. I have decided that a very modest requirement to make up for the backlog is 250,000 a year by 1970.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the Government's policy is welcomed in the country generally, especially in large conurbations like Birmingham where there are 40,000 or more on the waiting list whose only hope is to have a house to rent from the council? Although we support the Government's efforts to increase the num- ber of houses for sale, we also welcome the Government's policy to make up the backlog.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what were the total numbers of houses built in the United Kingdom between 1952 and 1964 inclusive, for private owners, and the public sector, respectively.

One million, seven hundred and seventy thousand for private owners and 2,260,000 for public authorities. I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table showing the figures for each year.

As these figures, on a quick mental calculation, work out at five council houses for every four private houses built during the 13 years of Tory rule, will the Minister explain why he is so dissatisfied with that ratio and how he intends to change it in the future?

Yes. My dissatisfaction is due to the fact that for the first seven years of Conservative Government public sector building exceeded private sector building. Since then, private sector building has overwhelmingly exceeded public sector building, and I need to redress the balance.

Would my right hon. Friend show in the table he intends to publish separate figures for Scotland as against the English position, because the Scottish trend has been quite different from the English trend?

I am afraid my hon. Friend must ask our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to deal with the Scottish picture. I deal with the collective picture.

Following is the Table:



Public sector

Private Sector