Current politicians could learn from Macmillan

One reader praises former Prime Minister Macmillan for his compassion and housing policy

I am in the fortunate position of being a disinterested observer of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) wrangles. However, there is one aspect of Kim Penfold's letter (Planning, 4 November, p16) that requires correction.

The construction of 300,000 homes in one year credited to Harold Macmillan did not occur when he was Prime Minister in the latter part of the 1950s, but when he was minister of housing and local government in the Churchill administration of 1951-55. What is more significant is that the vast majority of the housing provided was what we would now call social housing.

The great majority of these homes were contained in council estates built on the periphery of cities and adding to what had been provided between the wars. Examples include Debden, Hainault and Harold Hill in east London, Wythenshawe in Manchester and Seacroft in Leeds. This had little to do with the "nature of the development process" and everything to do with cheap money made available by the Public Works Loan Board.

Macmillan was moulded by his wartime experiences in the trenches and then by the depression during his time as MP for Stockton-on-Tees throughout the 1930s. His compassion for the common man sprang out of this background. The contrast with the current crop of politicians of whatever persuasion, with their experience of nothing in particular, could not be greater.

Ian Currie, Billericay


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