HC Deb 16 January 1978 vol 942 cc12-4
11. Mr. Michael Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied with house building starts in Wales in 1977.

Mr. Alec Jones

No. Total house building starts in Wales to the end of November 1977, which is the latest date for which figures are so far available, were 11,220. This compares with 14,765 in the corresponding 11 months of 1976. I am disappointed at the reduction, but I am gratified to note that as far as the public sector is concerned the 1977 level is still far higher than the 1973 level.

Mr. Roberts

Does the Minister accept the forecast that the housing figures for 1977 will be the lowest for two decades? If he does, may I ask whether he considers it to be a true reflection of housing demand in the Principality?

Mr. Alec Jones

There are differences between housing demand in the Principality and our capacity to meet the demand. I recently met representatives of every housing authority in Wales and urged them to do more to meet the housing needs of the people of Wales than they seem to have done in the earlier part of the year. It is a little early to know anything about the extent of the increase, but there is some evidence of increased necessary expenditure on housing in the current year.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Can the Minister tell us what he believes would be an annual target figure for house building in Wales to meet the need?

Mr. Alec Jones

I do not think that it is possible to do that because I do not believe that there is at the moment an effective and accurate estimate of the housing need. That is why we have said to housing authorities in Wales that as from April 1979 we shall wish to move towards housing investment programmes, using the coming year as an interim step during which we can better ascertain and begin to meet the housing needs of the people of Wales.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Does the Minister agree that one of the reasons for the deplorable housing figures in 1977 was the sharp decline in the private house building sector?

Mr. Alec Jones

There has certainly been a decline in the private sector. The hon. Gentleman will no doubt agree that, as a result of the Government's economic policies, mortgage interest rates have fallen. I believe that house building, even in the private sector, will soon pick up.

Forward to