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

I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not think that I am advocating the building of high-rise and deck-access flats. I mentioned mixed development and modern—and older—approaches to the subject, rather than the mistakes that we have made since the war. It is much better to have greater density than large areas of unused land. The density in many of our cities is measured not by the real density but by the fact that large areas of former factories and the like are not occupied. We must take seriously the change that has taken place and the need to reinforce our city centres.

I am happy to agree with the hon. Gentleman that we need to improve our housing stock. Most improvement in housing stock is done by the private sector—by people in their own homes—and the Government's successful economic policy is most likely to aid that improvement. Large-scale voluntary transfers will ensure that much of the older housing owned by local authorities is improved by releasing the money that is tied up in them. If certain local authorities, especially Labour authorities, had not held rents down or been unable to keep them up, we would have had very better quality. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will encourage people to take account of the benefits of large-scale voluntary transfers.