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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 13th March 1922.

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Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Another point was raised by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) earlier in the Debate, and by my predecessor (Dr. Addison) in the last Debate, and that is the question as to how far we intend to build houses at a loss rather than keep people unemployed. That is a very difficult problem that has always occupied our minds. The calculations when we come to make them do not bear out the idea that you would save money or do much good in doing so. As a matter of fact careful examination of the figures leads to this result. The right hon. Member for Shoreditch (Dr. Addison), on a Supplementary Estimate, gave the figures which he had worked out, namely, that in order to avoid a loss of £20 in the building of a house men were being thrown out of employment for a whole year at a cost of £120. I have examined the figures and find the following to be the true result. The average number of men required to build a house is not two, but one and a half, and in taking the amount of assistance given to unemployed the right hon. Gentleman's figure of £120 should be £90. Where the right hon. Gentleman went wrong was that he was comparing the loss on a house for one year, whereas the loss on a house was for 60 years, and if the loss is £20 the capitalised loss on the house at 5½ per cent, makes a present value of £350. Therefore, his saving would mean a net loss of £260. That was rather a different picture, and if we went on with that on any large scale we should get into an even more ruinous position than that in which we have been involved by similar calculations made in the past. I am certainly not prepared to accept that course. We have had a helpful discussion, and I hope the Vote will now be passed, and that we shall be able to proceed, not to waste money, as the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) suggested, but in order to get the best results for the money spent.