No, not in such generalised terms. But I attach much importance to community facilities being planned and programmed as fully as possible within available resources. These cover, among other things, play space, public open space and educational, welfare and social provisions which are the responsibility of several national and local government departments. Various initiatives are now in hand by the Government to achieve greater co-ordination.
Will the Minister issue aesthetic guidelines to local authorities to encourage them to eliminate drabness, monotony and soullessness when building new council estates and so give hope to new generations of council tenants who will be forced to live in these awful housing estates?
A great deal of design material goes out from the Department and will continue to do so. It is becoming increasingly fashionable for many levels of society to denigrate the 5½ million council dwellings, the vast majority of which have far better facilities than have dwellings in the private rented sector.
I am not satisfied generally with the collation of information centrally and its outflow for the purpose of monitoring a great variety of initiatives, not only in this connection but in relation to other matters of housing and environment. I hope that we shall improve on this during the course of the coming months and years.
When my hon. Friend examines the question of community facilities in council estates, will he consider the cost that is borne by the housing revenue account? Does he not agree that these facilities are often provided for rate payers through the rates? Will he make sure that the burden does not necessarily fall on the housing revenue account?
That question needs to be taken into account when we are considering the costs and the incomes of housing revenue accounts. I should be reluctant to draw too fine a line for local authorities to pursue. It is necessary to get as much integration of provision as is possible within the resources, and local authorities will find that difficult if too fine a line is drawn. When considering finances it is important to identify closely the facilities that are specifically housing and those that are non-housing although they may be provided as part of housing estates.