Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Building Industry Targets.

4.

asked the Minister for Local Government the steps he proposes to take to prevent any slow-down in the building industry.

The Government have taken steps to ensure financial support for a high level of activity under the public capital programme by providing £281.6 million in the programme for the nine months' period ending 31st December, 1974. This is equivalent to £384 million for a full year, an increase of £65 million over last year and of £136 million over that provided in 1972-73. Approximately £179 million of the provision for the period to 31st December next will generate work for the construction industry. This would represent an investment of £240 million in a full year and compares with expenditure on corresponding work of £205 million last year and £161 million in 1972-73.

The programme includes £60.6 million for housing in the current nine months period, which is equivalent to £78.8 million for a full year—an increase of £10.6 million over last year and £32.6 million over that provided in 1972-73. Furthermore, the subsidy introduced last year to encourage a higher level of investment in building societies is being continued.

I would point out that the estimated output of the building and construction industry indicates that the level of output in the year ending 31st March next will be about £443 million at current prices as compared with £378 million last year. Of the former amount, the estimated value of the output for housing is £173 million as compared with £153 million for 1973-74 and £117 million for 1972-73. The latest employment figures for the industry as a whole show 63,330 employed at the end of May compared with 61,850 at the same time last year and 61,513 at the end of May, 1972.

I do not want to cast any aspersions on the efforts of the Minister in regard to the building industry, but in view of the Central Bank's very gloomy prophesy or statement, there is uneasiness as to whether the Minister will achieve the same target of 25,000 next year as this year.

I am dealing with the Central Bank's statement in answer to another question. Deputy Moore is aware I am sure of all the people who said we would not attain 25,000 up to 31st March last. They were wrong, and I think they are wrong again.

I was one of those who said it would be attained.

Good for the Deputy.

I am worried about this year.

I have given the figures and I expect that there will be 25,000 houses built in the 12-months period to 31st March next. I would like to deal with the Central Bank's problems in another question.

I think the Minister is right, too. However, is the Minister aware that quite a number of building societies are issuing loans and saying in their letter of acceptance that payments will not be made for at least six months?

Perhaps the Deputy would put down a question about that, because this does not deal with building societies.