HC Deb 09 April 1973 vol 854 cc915-6
10. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether, in the light of the Monmouthshire census figures on housing amenities, he will now announce an extension of the date up to which 75 per cent. improvement grants may be obtained.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The time limit for 75 per cent. grants has recently been extended until June 1974.

Mr. Abse

Is the Minister aware that he has ignored the point which I put to him about the Monmouthshire figures? Is he further aware that throughout the area, particularly in northern Monmouthshire, the number of houses lacking basic amenities is still appalling? Does he appreciate that despite the efforts being made by gallant townships such as Blaenavon it is quite clear that it will take a long time to get houses up to the required standard? Why should he put a brake upon the efforts of Blaenavon and other towns which know that they have to stop at a certain time if they are to get the work done? Why not give them encouragement by having a long-term forward date to which they can work to make their towns as good as any new town?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The hon. Gentleman has a curious idea of a brake. The Government have just passed another Act to extend this important improvement grant. I know the problem in his constituency. As for Blaenavon, the figures this year are very much better than they were last year. In 1972 452 grants were approved in the hon. Gentleman's constituency compared with 216 the year before. That is a definite improvement.

Mr. Kinnock

May I remind the hon. Gentleman that he appears for some peculiar reason to have confused the numbers of improved houses which he has given in past answers with the need for new housing in Wales? Will he put his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) in context? What we are talking about is housing lacking basic amenities. What he has talked about in the past is an extension of housing. Does he appreciate that there is a need for something more than a 12-month extension of an Act which only provides people with standards which in other parts of the country are accepted as being merely civilised?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, what I was saying on previous occasions was that the total in the public, private and improved sectors in 1968 was something like 26,000 and that last year, under a Conservative Government, it was 42,000.