HC Deb 07 May 1973 vol 856 cc6-7
5. Mr. John

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the number of council houses built in Wales in 1972; and what were the figures for 1970 and 1971, respectively.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The figures were 3,502, 6,513 and 5,453 respectively.

Mr. John

Does not that reveal a shocking state of affairs because the provision of council housing is now halved compared with 1970? Does not the Minister realise the sense of deprivation that many young people are feeling both because of the high cost of private housing and because of the unavailability of council housing? Will he make sure that the Government's miserable public housing policy is improved quickly?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I cannot agree that the Government's housing policy is miserable. I repeat the figure I gave the House the other day. Taking the total of the public sector and the private sector, and the improvement grants in both sectors, we have a figure for 1968 of 26,000 houses improved on the housing stock whereas in 1972 the figure was 42,000, which is very different. It is a great improvement.

Mr. Gower

Does my hon. Friend recall that when the previous Government's figures were down they blamed local authorities that were Conservative-controlled. As so many local authorities in Wales now are Labour-controlled, is not some blame to be attributed there?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I seem to remember that the excuse the Labour Government had for England was different from the one they had for Wales.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Does not the Minister agree that the average family in Wales now has no chance of purchasing an average-priced house, that this is due to the Government's ineptitude in handling the whole question of escalating land prices, that the only way in which scores of thousands of families in Wales have a chance of a house of their own is to obtain a council house and that the level of council housing building is lower than at any period in the last quarter of the century?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I do not agree, because there has been a tremendous upsurge in improvement grants. In the past two years 1,000 more grants were approved for the modernisation of private houses in Wales than in the whole of the previous six years.

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