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Housing Finance

Volume 981: debated on Monday 17 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from local authorities in Wales regarding the Government's proposals for housing finance.

Nine authorities have made formal or informal representations about the recent housing allocations. Five authorities have also asked for clarification of points of detail.

Does my hon. Friend consider that the reduced allocations will none the less permit virtually all authorities to carry out such housing programmes as are reasonably practicable, given the material resources available?

I can assure my hon. Friend that Rhuddlan, on account of which he has made representations to me, is getting more money in its allocation for next year that it is spending this year. If it runs into difficulties it may supplement its allocation by using the next proceeds of sale of council houses or land.

How on earth can the Government pretend that this is an adequate programme in relation to the available resources when in the construction industry we have enormous unemployment in Wales?

The right hon. Gentleman will know that a promise was given in November 1978 that for the coming year the authorities would get 80 per cent. allocated to them of their allocations for this year. We have abided by that promise.

Will my hon. Friend continue to encourage the housing associations in Wales, as being a good way for local authorities to provide housing places for those on housing waiting lists without any cost whatever to the ratepayers?

Certainly we have encouraged the housing associations. We have allocated more than £28 million to the housing corporation which should enable the housing associations to maintain the programmes that are currently running.

Can the Minister explain why the housing investment programmes for England are available and have been placed in the Library, but those for Wales are still apparently subject to the Official Secrets Act?

The housing investment programmes have always been regarded as confidential, but certainly the housing allocations have been placed in the Library and they are public knowledge.

How can the Minister claim that there has been an improvement in housing when he has cut 30 per cent. in real terms off Merthyr's housing programme for next year? After all, this is a community which is trying to deal with the problems of redevelopment of more than 100 years, as well as build new council homes and give mortgages to people. Is he not condemning many people to an eternity of waiting? Is he aware that there are thousands on the waiting lists in Merthyr as well as other areas in Wales?

Merthyr is getting in 1980–81 92 per cent. of its original allocation for 1979–80. Therefore, I think it is doing pretty well.

On the question of housing waiting lists, the hon. Member knows from his experience of housing at the Welsh Office that there is no such thing as a standard housing waiting list. The waiting list is no real guide to housing requirements in Wales.