Is the hon. Gentleman aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House in two successive Parliaments have pressed for this information and that there is a serious lacuna in statistical records? If he cannot give the exact figures, surely with the help of local authorities, and possibly of the Board of Inland Revenue, some estimate can be given?
It is known that since the 1957 Rent Act the number of dwellings made available for rented purposes has decreased by something around 1 million. We agree that lack of information in this and many other fields of housing is very important, and my right hon. Friend is doing what he can to see that our statistical information is improved.
Can the hon. Gentleman say when such information, which plainly is highly germane to discussion, among other things, of rent restriction, will be available?
I cannot say off the cuff, but I can tell the right hon. Member that the information available is based on the 1961 census. The hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) is on a good point. We ought to have better statistical information and we are trying to get just that.
Has the hon. Gentleman had a chance to study the evidence by Ruth Glass to the Milner Holland Committee, in which she gave some calculations of the inter-censal change in the number of rented properties in Greater London? Could those techniques be used to give at least some idea of changes currently taking place?
I think the hon. Member is quite right. The person to whom he referred has created a basis for the sort of work which could be done. When the House is given information it is entitled to be given it with certainty.