HC Deb 29 July 1974 vol 878 cc12-3
9. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what criteria are applied by his Department when judging applications by local authorities to purchase housing originally intended for private purchase.

Mr. Rowlands

The criteria applied are that the houses should be available in the right place to meet urgent housing needs and that they should be of an appropriate standard and price.

Mr. Grist

What proposals do the Government have to compensate those who have bought their houses privately only to find the value greatly diminished subsequently by the application of this policy? How does the hon. Gentleman envisage the success of his Circular 174, whereby unlimited funds are to be made available for the rest of this year for first-time buyers of new houses, if local councils are to snap up all the new housing that comes on to the market?

Mr. Rowlands

There is no danger that local councils will snap up all the houses on the market. On the contrary, a large number of houses built for sale are still empty. It does no good to the value of properties if houses remain rotting and empty in times of urgent need.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my hon. Friend aware that the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Grist) is misleading the House when he alleges that valuations have been reduced? First, not a single house in Wales has yet been taken over by a local authority, so that there can be no scientific evidence of lower valuations. Secondly, the Building Societies Association would not accept such an assertion as a scientific basis for valuation in respect of the granting of mortgages. Is it not the case that when 50,000 people in Wales are on council housing waiting lists every possible means should be used to put roofs over the heads of families and their children?

Mr. Rowlands

I agree with the last point. In fact some houses have been purchased, but there is little evidence to suggest that the prices of private houses have been greatly reduced by this action of local authorities.