HC Deb 08 July 1991 vol 194 cc630-1
3. Mr. Anderson

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with Swansea city council and tenants on the nature of the tenancy and rent levels following the redevelopment of pre-cast reinforced concrete houses in Blaenymaes-Portmead and Clase estates in the city.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Bennett)

These are matters for consultation between Swansea city council and the tenants.

Mr. Anderson

The Under-Secretary of State will know that the tenants were most grateful to the Secretary of State for his readiness to see them this morning. However, they were intensely dissapointed by the lack of specific financial commitments and the apparent unwillingness to recognise the urgency and exceptional nature of the problem that faces the city. Tenants in Orlit houses are seeing their houses crumbling around them and regard them as a fire risk. Will the Under-Secretary of State consult Tai Cymru to make sure that rents are not pitched at such a level that tenancies are effectively available only to those on housing benefit? Will he also devise a formula so that the land that the city council is giving free to Tai Cymru can be taken into account in reducing rents to levels that can be afforded?

Mr. Bennett

Housing associations have a policy of setting affordable rents. It is for the housing benefit system to deal with people who are in need. Therefore, I do not accept that we ought to adjust housing association grants in this respect.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does the Under-Secretary of State recognise that the policy that he prefers means that for the next four or five years all the new housing that might be built by Tai Cymru in Swansea will be used not to reduce the housing list queue, but to provide homes for those who live in houses that will have to be demolished? In that context, and in view of the length of the housing list, does the Under-Secretary of State recognise that this, in Swansea terms, is a housing disaster which requires special financial provision?

Mr. Bennett

As I said in answer to questions at the last but one Question Time, we gave Swansea city council all that it asked for when it came to Orlit houses. I said at the time that we would sympathetically consider in coming years any further requests that were made. This year Tai Cymru is giving £9 million towards housing in Swansea. The right hon. Gentleman knows that we had a meeting about that this morning. We shall write to him further on the subject.