Mr Anthony Greenwood: The present Committee of 15 members includes three structural engineers. To add further structural engineers would upset the balance of the Committee.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: I would not subscribe to my hon. Friend's criticism of the work of the Committee. It has worked very quickly, I think, and very effectively under great difficulties. I will bear in mind her suggestion that the membership should be reorganised more frequently, but I am sure that she will realise that I have to strike a balance between the various professional interests involved, and it would...
Mr Anthony Greenwood: I am always glad to discuss with professional institutions and other bodies matters concerning the Building Regulations. Officials of the Department have had two recent discussions with representatives of the Institution of Structural Engineers, and both of these touched interalia on the structure of the Building Regulations.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: We shall shortly be having a further meeting with the Institution of Structural Engineers and I will bear in mind what my hon. Friend says. I greatly appreciate the interest she takes in this matter.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: The latest estimate of rate support grants payable to the County Borough of Barrow-in-Furness for 1969–70 is £2,365,907. The corresponding grants for 1964–65 totalled £1,476,952.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend is, I believe, perfectly correct, and it is worth pointing out also that the effect of the domestic element in the case of Barrow is to keep the domestic rate poundage in the present financial year at the same level as for 1969–70.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: It is not for me to rule on a matter of that kind. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not say anything improper about my hon. Friend's wish to elicit details about the great degree of generosity which the Government have shown in this matter.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: The latest estimate of rate support grant payable to the County Borough of Bradford for 1969–70 is £11,234,606. The corresponding grants for 1964–65 totalled £6,484,388.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: I think the best help that I can give my hon. Friend is to tell him that without that rate support grant the general rate last year would have been higher by 22s. 3d. in the £, and that the domestic element which the Government are paying has enabled the domestic rate in the coming financial year to be reduced by 3d. in the £
Mr Anthony Greenwood: If the hon. Gentleman will table a Question to me on that subject, I will gladly give him the answer. If he is really interested in electioneering nonsense, he should have watched television last night.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: Advice about the kind of evidence to which local authorities can properly have regard under these provisions will be included in a circular to be issued shortly to local authorities.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: I am sure that the whole House welcomes sober lovers. I welcome my hon. Friend's suggestion, because I believe it to be true that at present some local authorities are interpreting too widely their powers to enable mistakes to be rectified. I hope that the guidance which I shall shortly be issuing will prevent this from happening in future.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: Slightly more than 42 per cent., Sir.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: Yes, I am considering this. The progress made in delegating to inspectors is satisfactory. We originally estimated that it would be 46 per cent. It is at the moment 42 per cent., but it is being successful in shortening the time between receipt of notice of appeal and giving a decision. I am considering extending this power of delegation so that about 60 per cent. of appeals will be covered by it.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: The latest estimate of rate support grant payable to the County Borough of Southampton for 1969–70 is £5,889,856. The corresponding grants for 1964–65 totalled £3,183,698.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: It is too early in the year to make a reliable forecast. In the first two months of 1970, 37,536 dwellings were started and 49,963 completed in Great Britain. The decisions we have taken in recent weeks—notably the extra£50 million for local authority lending and the reduction in Bank Rate—will stimulate the rate of house building.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: If the hon. Member is interested in research into past history, I should tell him that in 1963, the last full year of Conservative Government, there were 27,000 starts and 28,000 completions, which is much less than there have been in the present period.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: What my hon. Friend has said is perfectly true. It is of some interest that, in spite of the difficulties, a number of local authorities are managing to maintain a very high level of house building, whereas others, like that to which my hon. Friend has referred, are falling short very seriously.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: That may be due to the fact that at the time to which the hon. Member refers I was Minister for Overseas Development. I have no recollection of having made a prophecy of that kind. Indeed, I do not remember any other Minister of Housing giving a reliable forecast so early in the year.
Mr Anthony Greenwood: I will bear my hon. Friend's suggestion for an all-London conference of authorities carefully in mind.