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Housing (Prime Minister'speech)

Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1975

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Ql.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech made in Islington on 8th March on housing.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on housing made in Islington on 8th March.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Edward Short)

In the absence of my right hon. Friend in Belfast, I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend did so on 10th March, Sir.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, despite our inheriting a desperate housing situation, the improvement in the housing figures for the most recent quarter for the number of starts, and completions in the public and private sectors reflects a response to the constructive short-term measures which the Government have already applied? Does he further agree that the situation could be further improved if the Government rapidly implemented the section of the manifesto which advocated allowing local authorities to supply unified services for estate agency work, surveying, conveyancing and mortgages?

As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's question, the Prime Minister made that point in his speech. He pointed out that when the Labour Government came to office in March the indications were that housing starts would be about 200,000 in 1974. The past three months show that they are, until now, running at a rate of 225,000 for the year. There has, therefore, been a considerable improvement.

As regards the last point, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will be sending a circular to local authorities tomorrow giving advice on a great many points but not, I think, on all the points included by my hon. Friend in his supplementary question.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that to the man on an average wage a generous mortgage would be something in the region of £7,500? Assuming that to be a 90 per cent. Mortgage, would the right hon. Gentleman care to place on the official record a list of areas, especially those around London, where the average price of property to be purchased for the first time by a young married couple is £8,350?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. This is the state of affairs which we inherited when we came to office. We made £500 million available to the building societies to keep their interest rates down, but interest rates are now generally falling.