asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what further studies he has made of the overall effect of the building licensing procedure contained the Building Control Act, 1966, and the Regulations made thereunder; and whether he will make a statement.
After considering the prospective demand on the industry, I suspended building licensing from 20th November, 1968, for an indefinite period. I do not propose to introduce legislation to repeal the Building Control Act, 1966, because it may have to be used again.
As in the last three years there has been just a tiny amount of building work which has been refused a licence out of an enormous potential amount, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the whole licensing procedure is a bureaucratic nuisance and that it wastes industry's time as well as a lot of public money?
I would not agree with that. The reasons for the Act coming into being were fully debated in 1966. I do not go back on what was said then. As Minister of the day, however, I saw that they were not needed at that moment, and I withdrew them. I should have thought that there would be excitement and delight among right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
If licensing played any significant part in economic demand management, why is the right hon. Gentleman now suspending it? It it played a part, why suspend it now? If it did not play a part, why not repeal the whole Act?
The hon. Gentleman is getting confused with his own Question. The reasons why the Act came into being were debated in 1966. As newly in charge of the Department, I decided, in the light of events as I saw them at that moment, that they were not necessary, arid I suspended them.
As the right hon. Gentleman has had time to think about this since I last raised it with him, will he now evaluate what, in the Prime Minister's words, was the direct impact on the balance of payments which we were promised that this Measure would have?