HC Deb 23 March 1987 vol 113 cc6-7
6. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many housing starts were made in (a) the public sector and (b) the private sector in Wales during 1986.

Mr. Mark Robinson

In 1986, 1,276 dwellings were started in the public sector and 7,136 in the private sector.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware that that figure represents a total build in the public sector in the past seven years in Wales of only 14,000 houses, when there would have been 36,000 had the level that prevailed in 1978 continued? That means a loss of 22,000 houses in the public sector. At the same time, the Government have arranged the selling off of 50,000 council houses. Therefore, there has been a loss of council housing for rent in Wales of over 70,000 units. Is it any wonder that people in Wales are having difficulty in finding houses in which to live, because of the public sector sales policy and the lack of building that has taken place under the Government?

Mr. Robinson

I am not entirely sure to which figures the hon. Gentleman is referring. I have given figures for one year, and it is worth stating that during that year the number of private sector completions rose to over 7,000 houses. That is the first time that that has been achieved for a number of years. There has been a rise in the number of houses completed in the private sector in every year for the past five years.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

Does my hon. Friend accept that Cardiff is being especially innovative with the announcement last week of a partnership of the city council, two housing associations and two building societies to build 600 new homes for rent in St. Mellons? Does my hon. Friend agree that there is the opportunity for many other developers to follow Cardiff's lead?

Mr. Robinson

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. There is scope for an increase in the number of housing units that are available in the private rented sector. I predict with considerable confidence that 1987–88 will mark the start of a significantly rising trend in the provision of homes to rent in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is the Minister aware that there is a lack of conviction in his answers? May I remind the Minister that the Library research figure reveals plummeting investment in housing between 1983 and 1987 of some £61 million? As our housing problems have reached a crisis, why did the Budget neglect Wales? The contrast between the sleek south and Wales is painful. Is it not true that the Welsh economy is at the crossroads and that we needed from the Budget a cash boost for houses and cash for the Health Service? The Budget betrayed Wales.

Mr. Robinson

I remind the hon. Gentleman that in the current financial year there has been a substantial boost for housing in Wales—

Mr. Barry Jones


Mr. Robinson

No, upwards. It has been the Government's policy to encourage renovation in both the private and public sectors, and I shall remind the hon. Gentleman of the figures. The Conservative Government have spend £333 million repairing private stock, compared with the Labour Government's spending of £57 million. We have spent £259 million repairing public sector housing stock, compared with the Labour Government's £86 million. What sort of record is that?