The latest R.I.B.A. survey showed that work in the drawing offices of private architects fell by about 12 per cent. between the first and second quarters of 1968. Work in local authority drawing offices fell by 2 per cent. in the four months to the end of May, 1968, compared with the four months to the end of January. There are no equivalent indicators for other public authorities, civil engineers and contractors. These figures are not conclusive evidence of trends in the industry, and the consensus of other indicators suggests reasonable prospects for 1969.
The trouble is that these surveys are not really conclusive, in the sense that they are concerned only with private architects, and the work given to them by public bodies by the use of outside consultants. The same survey shows a small increase during the second quarter in new commissions with a marked rise in private work other than housing, of 11 per cent., and this continued a trend evident for the last nine months.
Why does the Ministry confuse the issue by giving local authority figures in four-monthly periods, and private industry figures for each quarter? As I understand it, that is what the Minister said. Surely in this context the estimates of building work in 1969 are irrelevant? The fall in the level of design work this year is disturbing, and is likely to be reflected in the amount of building, not in 1969, but in 1970.
I have answered the Questions put down by both hon. Members, in the form which I think is proper. The fact that the Answer does not suit the hon. Gentleman is not of too much concern to me. This industry constantly complains about future trends. The Confederation of British Industry has said that there will be a fairly strong rise in investment in building over the next 12 months, and the Board of Trade's investment intention survey also points to a strong recovery in private investment in 1969.