HC Deb 20 December 1971 vol 828 cc1098-9
15. Mr. McBride

asked the Secretary of State for Wales to what extent he estimates local authority house construction will increase in Wales on the Housing Finance Bill becoming law.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The provisions of the Bill will enable local authorities to increase their house building programmes wherever there is a lack of housing for rent. It is too early to estimate what their response will be.

Mr. McBride

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, as a member of the Standing Committee considering the Housing Finance Bill, I have become convinced that its provisions will reduce local authority house building? This is an important matter as housing construction now provides more jobs than modern road-making methods. Therefore, the failure of the Secretary of State for Wales and of the hon. Gentleman to accept a place on the Standing Committee seems to me and to the people of Wales an indication of their inability to fight for local authority tenants and prospective local authority tenants who, because of the Housing Finance Bill, will be priced out of the homes which they have every right to expect.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State took part in the Second Reading debate on the Housing Finance Bill. I cannot accept what the hon. Gentleman said about the Bill. The proposals in it are intended to stimulate house building in the areas of greatest need, and, while the Government can provide the incentive, the final responsibility rests, by law, with each local authority.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the hon. Gentleman come to Swansea and explain to a mass meeting of council tenants why the Government are determined to push through legislation which will, in the next few years, increase the rents of many council tenants in Swansea by £2 or more a week?

Mr. Gibson-Walt

I always enjoy going to Swansea, but I do not accept what at the hon. Gentleman says.