Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Housing Target.

59.

asked the Minister for Local Government if he has a target for the number of houses to be completed in the coming 12 months; if so, the number; and, if it is less than 25,000, why.

The Government's housing target is the achievement of an annual output of 25,000 houses. I expect housing output to be of this order in the next 12 months.

While I agree that the Minister may get very close to his target this year as a result of the starts made in the early part of last year by the previous Government, can the Minister give any reason why he now expects to be able to maintain this figure in the following year?

Can the Deputy give me any reason why I should not?

Starts are down and the money is scarcer, not for corporation houses but for——

(Interruptions.)

I should like to answer Deputy Lemass's comment. I think it is worth replying to.

That is very condescending of the Minister.

I have the right to do so. Neither of the Deputies opposite got the opportunity of doing so.

If the rural workers had their way the Minister would not do it now either. Their opinion of him has gone down very much. The Minister neglected the rural workers.

I think the Deputy should not bring in personalities. I have a record of 26 years representing rural workers and I did more than the Deputy did in all his life or anybody belonging to him.

The Minister is certainly old enough.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Lemass asked a supplementary question on No. 59 and I should like to point out that in 1973-74 public capital expenditure on housing will amount to over £68 million as compared with only £46 million in the previous year.

Has the price of houses not gone up? Tell the truth.

That is not the question I asked. I asked the Minister in view of the reduction in starts that has been evident in the last six or eight months, how can the Minister——

There is no reduction in starts except in the imagination of Deputy Lemass.

(Interruptions.)

I think I understood the Minister to say that 25,000 houses would be built again in the coming year or at least that this is his target. Do I understand that this is actually a cut-back from his promised programme——

No. In fact we hoped to get up to 25,000 in the first four years and, in fact, we reached it in the first year.

On the previous Government's plans.

(Interruptions.)