It is for each local housing authority to decide in the first instance what the housing needs are in its own area and what measures should be taken to meet them. I would, however, welcome a much more positive approach to analysing the problem.
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain why his Department takes no account of the size of council house waiting lists as being one of the most important criteria of housing need?
I think it is a fact—and all authorities have found this—that many council house waiting lists are inaccurate in two ways. First, there are many people on the lists who have no need to be on them; secondly, there are a large number of people who should be on the lists and are not. This is why I would welcome more positive house-to--house research into this problem.
In considering housing needs in the local authorities, is it not difficult to distinguish between those who would like to live in a particular place and those who must live there? Surely it is highly uneconomic to build very expensive council houses in the most desirable places when it is possible to provide such houses in other parts of the country at a lower price?
There are many difficulties in terms of analysing the housing problem. What concerns me most is that in the worst housing areas there are many people who are not on any housing list at all. This is why I hope that housing advisory centres will become a positive feature.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are housing lists in London containing between 5,000 and 10,000 people? Would he acknowledge that, except in the run-up to the local election period, there was a vicious politically-motivated brake put on council house building, and that as a result of the local elections millions of people will now hope for an improvement in the situation? Will he give these new authorities all the encouragement they deserve?