§ 7. Mr. Roy Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of total capital expenditure in Wales was spent on housing at the latest available date; and how this compares with the percentage figure so spent in 1979.
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts
Gross capital expenditure on housing in Wales in 1983–84 is estimated at about 34 per cent. of the total gross capital expenditure which lies within my right hon. Friend's responsibility. The comparable figure for 1979–80 was 31 per cent.
§ Mr. Hughes
I again draw the Minister's attention to the chief housing officer's report. Bearing in mind that he and his colleagues are the experts on housing, does the Minister deny that total expenditure allocated to housing has dropped by two thirds in the past six years, and that even in the private sector the number of houses completed has dropped by more than 30 per cent. since 1979? What is the Welsh Office doing to arrest the appalling decline that is developing in Welsh housing?
§ Mr. Roberts
I think that the report was referring to the private sector when it drew attention to the events of the past six years. It is right to say that there has been an upswing in private sector house building. Starts in 1983 were 40 per cent. up on those in 1981 and we hope that trend will continue. In the coming year the local authorities will have about £150 million to spend on housing, and the Housing Corporation will be able to spend a further £41.5 million. With the expenditure of the Development Board for Rural Wales on housing and urban development grant pump-priming finance, I expect public sector capital investment in housing this financial year to be close to £200 million.
§ Mr. Raffan
Does my hon. Friend agree that Labour Members' feeble attacks on the Government's housing record come hypocritically from a party which showed such scant regard for home improvement when it formed the Government? Will he remind Labour Members yet again of their appalling record on improvement grants? Is he aware that the figures show that over five years the Labour Government spent little more than half of what this Government have spent in only one year?
§ Mr. Roberts
My hon. Friend is right. During the five years from 1974–75 to 1978–79 the previous Labour Government spent £58 million on home improvement. That must be set against the £100 million which the present Government spent last year alone. I should remind Labour Members, too, that when the Labour Government were in office public sector house building fell by 60 per cent.