HC Deb 20 February 1978 vol 944 cc989-90
9. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has received a copy of "Housing in Wales", a report of the Welsh Housing Association Committee; and if he will make a statement on his policy with regard to its proposals.

Mr. John Morris

Yes. I note that much of the statistical information which the report uses has been superseded, and that its conclusions are in many respects out of date. I have in fact already allocated a greater amount to housing associations for rehabilitation work in 1978–79 than the report asks for.

Mr. Evans

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, although Wales gets its fair proportion of public expenditure per head of the population compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, it still has a higher proportion of unfit houses than most other areas in Britain? Will he look at the proposal concerning the need to improve older properties by designating housing action areas in Wales and encouraging local authorities to do likewise?

Mr. Morris

I have given every encouragement to housing action areas, and local authorities have had their experience of the first round. We look forward to the next stage.

With regard to the rehabilitation work, the housing associations, for example, asked for enough money to rehabilitate 800 units. We shall give them enough money to rehabilitate 1,000 units. Of their new building, about 1,000 houses will come within their cognisance. When we looked at the resources of the housing associations, we found that they were getting £1.4 million in 1973–74. I expect the outturn in 1978–79 will be about £30 million.

I accept immediately that there is a great need in Wales. I have on two occasions obtained increases in the money available. But it is of the utmost importance that, when the resoures are made available, the money should be spent. I regret that I am not getting as much response as I would have wished and the House would have wished.

Mr. Speaker

That answer was even longer than some of mine used to be when I answered at the Dispatch Box.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Is it not a fact that the report "Housing in Wales" by the Welsh Housing Association Committee is based on the 1973 household conditions survey? Why is the 1976 household conditions survey so late in appearing? I understand that it is being printed. Does it show any substantial difference?

Mr. Morris

It is on its way. It has been prepared as speedily as possible and it shows a steady progression of improvement. The percentage of unsatisfactory housing had been falling at the rate of 1.4 per cent. a year. It stood at 25 per cent. in 1973. By 1976 it was down to 18 per cent., having fallen at the rate of 2.3 per cent.—a 50 per cent. improvement. I hope that the survey will be before hon. Member as soon as possible.