§ 5. Mr. Alec Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what were the average prices of new and old houses in Wales in June 1970; and what are the figures at the latest available date.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. David Gibson-Watt)
During the 12 months ending 30th June 1970, the average price of a new house mortgaged with a building society in Wales was £4,436, and a secondhand house £4,216. Comparable figures for the 12 months ending 31st December 1972 were £5,983 and £5,909. These figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample, which is too small for a reliable monthly figure.
§ Mr. Jones
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that these figures are scandalous examples of property exploitation? Is he prepared to give advice to the young couples of Wales, anxious to find and buy a home for their families, on how to afford these very high figures and the equally high mortgage rates?
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
Many young couples today look to our older housing stock to provide their first house, often taking the opportunity to improve their new home with the generous grants available. The hon. Gentleman should not forget that we have done away with the rationing of local authority home loans which was imposed by the Labour Government. Local authorities in Wales may lend freely for the purchase of older houses.
§ Mr. Rowlands
The hon. Gentleman should come to any one of our surgeries on a Saturday morning and see the problems at first hand. He talks about people buying unimproved older houses but is he not aware that these are now £2,500 to £3,000 when once they were £1,000 and that with the grant they go up to £4,500 or £5,000? Is he not further aware that large numbers of young families are virtually homeless, their homelessness concealed only by the tact that they are often living in their parents' front room, which creates tension and marital difficulties?
I know that there is a problem, but house prices in Wales have risen by far smaller percentages than in the United Kingdom as a whole.
§ Mr. George Thomas
That complacent reply is offensive to the people of Wales. Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the Government have simply replaced the old scheme of local authority loans by rationing by the purse, with the result that only those with a very high income are now able to buy a home in Wales?
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong if he suggests that I am complacent. I said earlier that there were certainly problems but I was pointing out that fortunately in Wales the comparative figures are rather better than they are in England.