Construction Industry (Output)

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Building and Works – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry 12:00 am, 3rd December 1968

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what estimate he has made of the effects upon the construction industry of the economic measures announced by Her Majesty's Government on Friday, 22nd November.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will now make a further statement about the output of the construction industry in 1969.

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

It is too early to estimate the effect of the measures on output in 1969 but it may be to put the increase nearer 4 per cent. than 5 per cent. The effect on construction costs will I think be very small.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

Cannot the Minister give us any idea of the effect of bridging finance and loans to builders? Will he take this opportunity publicly to deny the suggestion that the price of houses might be raised by as much as £80, and give his own estimate?

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

I would not give an estimate about the price of houses off the cuff. It would have to be carefully considered before any such estimate was made. The view of my Ministry is that there may be a small increase in the cost of construction of about per cent. overall, due to the increases in Purchase Tax and the new deposits on imports.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Will my right hon. Friend draw the attention of his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the fact that import deposits on plywood and other timbers may have a very bad effect on the building industry? Is he aware that, while many of us on this side of the House are in favour of import controls, we think that they should be selective and intelligent controls, and that the imposition of import deposits on plywood in particular is not likely to be very helpful to the construction industry?

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

There is to be a debate on this matter and I assume that in Committee there will be a chance for Amendments to be put down to the Bill to exempt various commodities from its provisions. As I understand it, raw and sawn timber will be exempt from import deposits but planed plywood and particle board will be subject to the deposits. What the overall effect will be I cannot say, except that I have had no representations from the timber people, although the Board of Trade probably has had.

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

What estimate has the Minister made of the effect of these economic measures upon the construction industry in Scotland?

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

Without notice I cannot make an estimate. I have said that there will be a small increase in the cost of construction of about ¼ per cent. overall. How much applies to Scotland I have not a clue.