HC Deb 28 February 1977 vol 927 cc2-3
2. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he has taken, or proposes to take, to alleviate the housing position in those parts of Wales where there is a substantial waiting list for local authority housing, and where there is an increasing number of second homes that are empty for large parts of the year.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Alec Jones)

It is for the local authority concerned to take such steps as it may consider appropriate in these circumstances.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware that in my area, the Arfon Borough Council area and the Dwyfor District Council area, a recent study has shown that there are more second homes than there are people on the housing waiting list, even though the waiting list for council housing is larger than the average in Wales? In those circumstances, will he listen to representations from these councils for specific and deliberate aid to try to allow them to buy more second homes when they come on to the market in order to meet the needs of the long waiting list for council housing?

Mr. Alec Jones

I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware that the measures that the Government have already taken, including withdrawing financial assistance towards second homes from public funds, the abolition of tax relief on second home mortgages and the abolition of improvement grants for second homes, have removed the worst of these features. We are always prepared to listen to problems. We have made a block allocation this time. It must be for councils to decide their own priorities within that block grant.

Mr. Roderick

Will my hon. Friend make more funds available not only for the purchase by local authorities of second homes but for the purchase of any private homes when they come on to the market, to prevent them from becoming second homes?

Mr. Alec Jones

I cannot comment on a hypothetical situation. If my hon. Friend has details of particular cases, I shall be glad to examine them.

Mr. Grist

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that in order to alleviate the demand for accommodation, particularly in cities, there is a crying need for reform in the existing land laws?

Mr. Alec Jones

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that these matters are now under review.