HC Deb 02 December 1991 vol 200 cc5-7
4. Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give figures of housing starts in Clwyd and Wales by (a) councils, (b) housing associations and (c) private developers for 1978 and for 1990.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Daavid Hunt)

In 1978 total housing starts in Wales amounted to 12,351. In 1990 there were 10,183. In Clwyd in 1978, total housing starts were 1,626. That figure rose to 2,078 in 1990. I shall arrange for the other figures to be printed in the Official Report.

Mr. Jones

I thank the Secretary of State for those figures. Is he aware that there will be only 48 housing associations starts this year in the whole of Glyndwr, which, as he knows, is a rural area? Does he agree that that is a disgrace, bearing in mind that I and, I am sure, my hon. Friends receive regular visits from people who are desperate for housing in those areas?

Mr. Hunt

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman framed his supplementary before he heard the figures that I gave, but they showed that total housing starts in Clwyd rose between 1978 and 1990. The basic housing programme in 1979–80 amounted to some £30 million for housing association activity, whereas this year's programme is likely to be worth about £150 million. That is an enormous increase.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the hon. Secretary of State bear it in mind that for the homeless it is rented accommodation that counts? Homelessness had risen by 4,500 before a further 2,000 repossessions took place, yet at the same time there has been a decline of 2,300 in the number of houses being built for rent. Does not the Secretary of State realise that much of the problem and the desperation of the homeless in Wales is the direct result of the policies that he is pursuing?

Mr. Hunt

The right hon. Gentleman will he aware of the extremely good document "Housing in Wales: An Agenda for Action", for which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State was responsible. On the hon. Gentleman's particular point, he should have a word with his hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), whom I met only this morning with a delegation from north Wales. I pointed out, for example, that the flats above shops initiative has been extremely successful. There are many other initiatives.

Mr. Simon Coombs

Does my right hon. Friend agree that alongside new housing, it is important to conserve the existing private sector housing stock? In that context, will he say something about the level of renovation grant currently available in Wales?

Mr. Hunt

That is a particular success story. Total expenditure since 1979 on house renovation in Wales is about £2,000 million. Some 215,000 grants have been made for private sector renovation since 1979. That speaks for itself.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the first six months of this year alone, 1,923 repossession orders were made for homes in Wales? That was an increase of more than 70 per cent. on last year. What advice does the right hon. Gentleman give to the hundreds of families who have had their homes repossessed because of his economic policies? Does not he realise that his glossy brochures do not help to mend the marriages under stress or put right the budgets under stress? Is not it the case that the right hon. Gentleman has no strategy and no policy, but only complacency on housing?

Mr. Hunt

It is always a matter of great sadness when anyone's home is repossessed, but the hon. Gentleman is trying to draw a veil over what happened in the 1970s, when there were considerable repossessions and when interest rates, if he recalls, reached a much higher level than they are at present. If the hon. Gentleman considers the number of housing starts instead of artificially creating anger, he will realise that the Opposition's record was not very good. Under the last Labour Government there were a number of cuts, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman will begin to recognise the progress that has been made under this Government.

Following is the information:

Housing starts—Wales
Total Wales Private Housing associations Local authorities
1978 12,351 7,165 1,184 4,002
1990 10,183 7,632 2,213 338
Housing starts—Clwyd
Total Clwyd Private Housing associations Local authorities
1978 1,626 1,371 41 214
1990 2,078 1,597 375 106
In each case housing association starts have increased and housing associations should be congratulated on their achievements.