Household Projections

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:51 pm on 25th November 1996.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Secretary of State for Environment 4:51 pm, 25th November 1996

My right hon. Friend and I have a similar attitude to the family and the concerns that he has raised. He will find in the document a very clear statement that, if we find such figures intolerable, we will have to look again at the way in which life style is operated and whether we are prepared to accept such an environmental result. That is a real issue. The problems are very clear.

Of course, the figures may be wrong, since, as I have said, we have always been wrong in recent years—but always due to underestimating. That is the problem. As a responsible Minister, I have to look at the sort of numbers that will be demanded. Even if we were able to change the mores of society, so that there were fewer divorces and so that divorced people married again, the numbers of homes that would be needed would still have a significant impact on the country. We will need to discuss the issues and decide whether the figures should be left exactly as they are; or whether, as I fear, they will be greater, or, as my hon. Friend and I hope, less. I hope that encouraging local authorities to use their planning powers will be one of the consensus views that will come from the document before us.