HC Deb 24 June 1974 vol 875 cc969-70
8. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will now answer Questions relating to the waiting lists of housing authorities in Wales.

Mr. Rowlands

About 38,000 people are on the waiting lists of 22 authorities which have given information on this subject to the Welsh Office. I do not regard this figure as an entirely reliable indicator of true housing need.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my hon. Friend aware that this a very good answer and that it adds significantly to the accountability which Departments must have to Parliament, because previous Governments have refused to provide answers to such Questions? If I heard my hon. Friend aright, is it fair to say that in all the local authority areas in Wales there are probably 50,000 people who are waiting for housing? Can he say what he proposes to do to meet that demand? Do his plans include encouraging local authorities to take maximum advantage of the Government's facilities for taking over and occupying unsold estates of private housing?

Mr. Rowlands

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. With the 15 authorities about which we have no information, I suspect that the figure may come close to that given by my hon. Friend. I attach extreme importance to the purchase of large unsold private estates of houses. It would be a scandal for those houses to lie idle when there are so many people on the waiting lists.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

May I add my congratulations to the hon. Gentleman on releasing the figures of the scandalous number of people who are still on local authority waiting lists? May we have an assurance that the Government are pressing ahead with a crash programme of new local authority building?

Mr. Rowlands

Most certainly, Sir. I have a direction from my right hon. and learned Friend, on visiting every one of the housing authorities, to emphasise and press this need, and I am glad to say that I am getting encouraging responses from them.