asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that adequate information is available to his Department for determining the optimum life period for new houses, mindful of the need to match construction and maintenance resources on the one hand with, on the other hand, a national plan for progressive housing renewal ; and if he will make a statement.
The optimum life of new houses depends upon a very wide range of variables and I do not think that it is possible to determine conclusively at the outset how soon a new house will require replacement.I take my hon. Friend's point about the need for progressive renewal of the older housing stock. Given the age structure of the existing stock, particularly the high proportion of dwellings which predate the First World War, such renewal is only going to be achieved gradually by a mixture of improvement and replacement. This requires a more selective and sophisticated approach than the wholesale clearance programmes which formed the main thrust of the attack on substandard housing in the past. The Department is working with local authorities to establish the problems which this more selective approach involves.