Building Control (Cost Limit Exemption)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1966.

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Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin 12:00 am, 1st November 1966

That is true. But we have one for 1970. The years preceding that are important also. Any further uncertainty in this vital industry will hamper considerably the Government's intention of building more houses.

If we look at the Order and its effects upon the building industry, we must also consider its effects upon potential investors in new construction. If a sum of £100,000 is required for a building project, it is reasonable to assume that that money will be available on the market and that advance planning for its provision will be made by banks, institutions, trusts and other sources of money. If it is a matter of £50,000, forward planning becomes much more difficult, because the amount is too small. I believe that £100,000 is a very narrow limit, in any case, within the framework of forward planning for the financial institutions of the country.

If we know that every project which costs more than £50,000 will be the subject of an application for a special licence, that means that there will not only be delay but real uncertainty about whether that licence will be granted. In the long term, the Government will find that this Measure will do considerable harm to the economy, not only at the level of the building industry but also amongst those institutions which provide capital for additional building and for long-term planning of construction.

I have said that I believe that this Order is needless, unless the Government believe that the economic crisis is insoluble. Even if they believe that and think that the economic crisis will continue for a number of years, I do not believe that the Order, which is further deflation upon deflation, can possibly have other than a damaging effect upon the economy.

It is essential that certain things have priority. One of the priorities is the construction of new buildings, the modernisation of existing buildings, and progress in the construction of new towns and new industrial centres. To bring controls to bear on this type of work at a time when the country should be looking forward to the exciting years of development which lie ahead is a retrogressive step, and I believe that the Government will regret it.