HC Deb 26 January 1983 vol 35 cc886-7
8. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council houses were built in the city of Leicester in each of the past five years for which records are available.

Sir George Young

In the five years 1977 to 1981, 1,154, 1,127, 960, 678 and 297 dwellings, respectively, were completed by Leicester city council.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that that catastrophic drop in council house building has been caused entirely by the Government cutting off the necessary funds? Is he further aware that about 30,000 people in Leicester are on the housing waiting list and that not only is he causing great hardship for those who are least able to bear it, but he is supervising the demolition of our local house construction industry?

Sir George Young

The hon. and learned Gentleman would do well to direct his indignation towards Leicester city council. Towards the end of last year my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction made it clear that he would entertain additional bids from local authorities that wanted to supplement their HIP allocation for the current year. As he has said, another £160 million has been made available. Sadly, we did not hear from Leicester city council.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Is the hon. Gentleman aware—if he is not will he have a word with his hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction, to whom I wrote on the subject last week—that recent investigations into an estate in the city of Leicester reveal structural defects in just under 1,000 houses? Will he give the city council two undertakings? First, will he authorise the city council, if demolition is required, to have an increase in the HIP allocation to cover rebuilding the houses? Secondly, will he assure those who have exercised their right to buy—27 people are involved—that they will be extended the same conditions as the Government announced for Airey houses earlier this week?

Sir George Young

I assume, or rather I hope, that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Saffron lane estate, information about which came to light fairly recently and too late to be included in next year's HIP allocation. We shall be in touch with the local authority to see how that problem can be overcome.

Mr. Farr

As the rate of building seems to have declined rapidly under a Labour council in Leicester, will my hon. Friend consider writing to the council to remind it of its duty to the public in general and the need to maintain a suitable council house building programme in its area in particular?

Sir George Young

The figures that I gave were for completions. The figures for starts are more encouraging. There were 720 public sector starts in the first nine months of 1982 in Leicester, compared with 467 for the whole of 1979.