HC Deb 21 February 1972 vol 831 cc886-7
20. Mr. McBride

asked the Secretary of State for Wales to what extent he estimates the functions, in relation to housing, at present enjoyed by Swansea City Council, will be affected should the Housing Finance Bill become law.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Swansea City Council will continue to exercise its present housing functions and will also be given important new functions in the private housing sector.

Mr. McBride

Is the Minister aware that in this case he has not read the Bill? Is he also aware that all local authorities in Wales will have their rent-fixing powers usurped by the Government-appointed non-elected rent scrutiny boards, and that Swansea City Council, in company with others which do not impose a rent increase by 1st April, must impose by retrospective legislation a mandatory increase of £1 a week on all local authority houses in October? Is the Minister aware that the Housing Finance Bill in certain circumstances imposes fines on tenants, councillors and council officers and effectively removes housing control from democratically elected councillors in Swansea and all Wales?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The extensive housing functions now undertaken by local authorities will remain their responsibility in the future, and there is no proposal to alter this. Authorities will continue to be responsible for assessing the housing needs in their area and for taking steps to meet those needs.

23. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he now proposes to hold a further meeting with Swansea City Council about his local government reform proposals.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I have already held one meeting with the city council. I do not think that a further meeting would produce any information not already available to me.

Mr. Williams

As my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies), my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) and I discovered when we met the Secretary of State last week that the adding of Gower to Swansea rests on two dubious points—the first being two words appearing in a set of minutes, which were not reported verbatim, of a meeting between the right hon. Gentleman and the council, this set of minutes having neither been seen nor corroborated by Swansea, and the second being a majority of three on the Gower R.D.C., which represents fewer than 20,000 people, the unanimous opposition of Swansea Council, which represents 180,000 people having been ignored—may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to look again at his decision in the light of the evidence which I sent him subsequent to the meeting last week?

Mr. Thomas

The attitude of Swansea Council is, I believe, perfectly clear. The city council's first choice was that it should be the centre of a one-tier authority. Its second choice was that Swansea, within its present boundaries, should be a new district within the new county of West Glamorgan. When Swansea Council met me I was told that it would be prepared, as a third choice, to accept Gower, provided it was the whole of Gower. The Gower R.D.C., on the other hand, by a letter dated 26th May, told me that the council had approved a resolution unanimously to the effect that the whole of the R.D.C. of Gower should form part of the district forming Swansea.