HC Deb 28 June 1988 vol 136 cc195-6 3.30 pm
Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the Government's plan for the sale of council estates in Wales. This is a specific matter for debate because separate guidelines have been produced for Wales and these have not been given the parliamentary scrutiny which, belatedly, was possible for the equivalent proposals for England. For thousands of people throughout Wales—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I ask hon. Members to leave the Chamber quietly.

Mr. Michael

For thousands of people throughout Wales who will be affected by the proposals it is vital that the document should be discussed fully in the House. Ministers should explain it and answer questions on the practical effect that it will have on existing council tenants, on homeless people, on young people seeking a home for their start in life and on the growing number of elderly people who should be able to count on a comfortable and secure home in their remaining years.

It is a matter of urgency, because the document was not made available in the Vote Office in the usual way, and emerged in the Library only yesterday. There has been a transparent and successful attempt to evade debate on it during consideration of the Housing Bill, and a debate without further delay is the only way to restore accountability to the House by the Secretary of State for Wales.

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, the pleas that were made for the document, along with the document on tenants' choice in Wales, which is still missing, believed to be hidden to be produced two or three weeks ago, so that they could be considered with the Housing Bill. The Welsh Office stated in the press that there would be quite a different document for Wales and that Welsh Members wanted it published and debated as quickly as possible. Those whose homes are under threat have a right to expect the House to move as a matter of urgency to allow a debate that could clarify their future.

You will be aware, Mr. Speaker, that council housing and the entire topic of social housing is a matter of serious public concern. Members have complained at the chaotic way in which the House has been engulfed in a flood of Government amendments to the Housing Bill. You have heard the angry complaints of hon. Members who are concerned about the housing needs of their constituents, who find it difficult to deal with the shifting sands of Government policy-maing long after consideration of the Housing Bill in Committee has been completed.

This is a specific matter of public concern which has been prevented, cynically and deliberately, from receiving an airing during debates on the Housing Bill. That is why the public interest demands that time be made available, as a matter of urgency, for the House to debate the Secretary of State's document, which pretends to show concern for social housing, but leaves unanswered so many important fundamental questions for the future of such housing in Wales that our failure to debate it would be an abrogation of our responsibility and would appear to condone the Secretary of State's failure to seek open discussion of his proposals.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely, the Government's plan for the sale of council estates in Wales. I listened with great care to the hon. Member. As he knows, my decision on Standing Order No. 20 applications is based on whether they meet the criteria laid down under the Standing Order. I regret that I do not consider that the matter that the hon. Member has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20 and I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House.