§ 3. Mr. Anderson
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his policy regarding the provision of housing by Welsh local authorities.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Walker)
Local authorities assess housing needs and forecast that they will spend £236 million on housing this year. I hope that they will also assess the many advantages to Wales of the new housing provisions, including 100 per cent. mandatory grants for home improvements which will be available to those on low incomes.
§ Mr. Anderson
The Secretary of State will be aware that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has referred to a time when local authorities, or what he calls "facilitators", will cease to build homes. Will the Minister given an undertaking that Welsh local authorities will still be able to build for general need? Given the enhanced and welcome role of housing associations, does the right hon. Gentleman see a need for the Welsh Office to provide a framework for continuing consultation between Welsh local authorities and the housing associations operating in the Principality?
§ Mr. Walker
First, I believe that a great deal of consultation will take place. I can only reflect on the figures for the total public sector housing programme, including the housing associations and the new towns, 716 which shows that the forecast spend for this year is £286 million compared with £131 million for the last year of the Labour Government.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the groups of council tenants in Cardiff who are considering breaking away from their landlord, the city council? Will he assure me that every facility will be provided to tenants' organisations and Welsh housing associations to ensure that, if they so wish, they can take full advantage of the new freedoms under the Housing Act 1988?
§ Mr. Walker
Obviously any such move would have to be considered carefully by all those involved. The provisions of the Housing Act 1988 are clear and available to all concerned.
§ Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones
I am sure that the Secretary of State will recall being reported in the Western Mail recently as saying that he would be announcing more help for people to become owner-occupiers, presumably through incentives for people buying council houses. He will be aware that many long-standing tenants are not proceeding with their purchases and are awaiting details of his announcement. Will the Secretary of State tell the people of Wales what is the status of his announcement and when he will make a statement?
§ Mr. Walker
I have made it clear that anyone wishing to proceed under the present scheme will not be disadvantaged. When the present scheme was introduced, it was bitterly opposed by the Labour party, and possibly by Plaid Cymru as well, but I am glad to say that many people in Wales in local authorities under the control of different political parties have been able to enjoy owner-occupation as they could not have done if the Opposition's views had prevailed.