HC Deb 20 April 1970 vol 800 cc6-8
11. Mr. Gower

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is aware of the concern of architects and builders in Wales at the recent decline in the number of dwellings under construction; and what steps he will take to reverse that trend.

Mr. George Thomas

I detect no recent decline. The number of dwellings under construction in Wales at the end of February is virtually the same as it was at that time last year.

Moreover, the measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government in the House on 18th March will be of marked benefit to Wales.—[Vol. 798, c. 405–7.]

Mr. Gower

Is the right hon. Gentleman not somewhat concerned at the high level of unemployment in the construction industry, not only in Wales but throughout the United Kingdom?

Mr. Thomas

That is an entirely different question from the one on the Order Paper. The hon. Gentleman asked me about a decline in the number of dwellings. At present there are over 18,000 dwellings under construction in Wales. Another 2,600 have been approved in the public sector, and work on these will be starting fairly soon.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Is not the right hon. Gentleman being rather complacent? My hon. Friend's Question referred to the concern of architects and builders. Is he aware of the concern among such people in Wales on this point?

Mr. Thomas

I am confining myself, quite legitimately, to the Question on the Order Paper, which refers to the concern at a decline in the number of dwellings under construction. I have given figures showing that if there is such concern it is not justified.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that a slump in housing under this Government is equivalent to a boom under the Conservative Party?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, and that is especially so in the part of the country which my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) represents.

19. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many houses were completed in the public and private sectors, respectively, in the first quarter of 1970; and what were the figures of houses under construction at the end of this period.

Mr. E. Rowlands

The figures are not yet available; they will be published very soon, and I will send the hon. Member a copy.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said, but does it look as though the figures are as good as those for last year? What are the figures for houses under construction in both the public and the private sector?

Mr. Rowlands

I prefer to give the exact numbers, and I have not them with me. The number of houses under construction and approved in the first three months of this year was over 20,000, which compares favourably with the figure for last year.