Orders of the Day — Housing Subsidies Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th February 1956.

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Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough 12:00 am, 15th February 1956

I prefer that, too. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that this objection could have been raised against the action taken by the Labour Government in 1948–49, of which he was a distinguished member. At that time we were providing food subsidies as now we are providing housing subsidies. It is a perfect analogy, and I hope that it is in order to use it to rebut the charge made from the benches opposite.

In 1948 or 1949—I have forgotten the exact date—our food subsidies had risen from £410 million to £560 million. Sir Stafford Cripps said that the State could not afford such a sum, and he set a permanent ceiling for food subsidies of £410 million a year. He did that for the same reason that the present Government are having to cut housing subsidies. I beg hon. Members opposite to read the speech of Sir Stafford Cripps at that time. I remember it very well. He said that we could not afford to pay such large subsidies because we were then in an economic crisis not unlike the one facing us today. The Government of the day had to say that they were going to spend the money more wisely.