You gave a hint, Sir Samuel, that speeches should be kept short, and I would like to continue to make my case.
Latterly, there has been a 1 per cent. reduction in Bank Rate. Granted that that is a good thing and that it will help building to some degree, something more is needed. I am sorry that the Minister of Housing and Local Government is not in his place, but perhaps his Parliamentary Secretary will take the point. I ask him categorically whether he will give us tonight his ideas for the national housing plan. Will he tell us his policy for lower interest rates for housing? The country has been promised both, and it is high time something was done.
The Government have been almost hypnotised by their by no means easy feat of having achieved a shortage of funds for building, very high rates of interest and fast-rising prices at a time when demand is slackening because of the lack of mortgage facilities. I am not surprised, because by their own acts they have created a crisis of confidence not only in the building industry but, I am sorry to say, in the country at large.
Having been critical, I would now like to be constructive. House ownership, building, and owner-occupying are vital, but building to rent both by private enterprise and local authorities is the only way in which the housing crisis will be solved. It will take a long time, but it is the key to the whole problem. Naturally, this can only be done by building both houses and flats. But how can private enterprise be expected to play its part when we have a Housing Minister who has turned his back on private enterprise and removed all incentive by introducing a Rent Bill which freezes and ultimately regulates virtually all rents?