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If I deal with the amendment briefly it is not a sign of discourtesy to the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) but because this issue was debated at length in Committee. Much of the argument was rehearsed in Committee and has been repeated tonight. For that reason I do not intend to deal with the matter at length.
However, there appears to be some inconsistency in the hon. Gentleman's argument when he talks about his lack of faith in local authorities to provide land for building. He seems to presuppose that if land were released for building, building would take place. The history of 1972 and 1973 under the previous administration shows that housing starts in England, Wales and Scotland were the lowest we have ever had on record. There is no evidence to suggest that the two issues are in any way related. Government policy must inspire both public and private building. The decline in housing starts in 1972 and 1973 were, in our view, directly related not to the lack of development land but to the policy being pursued by the then administration.
The objective behind the first group of amendments, Nos. 68, 72 and 77, is to