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.
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.
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?
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.
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.