In the first nine months of 1973, 2,558 houses were built in the public sector in Wales and private house completions totalled 8,412. The data for corresponding periods from 1966 will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The downward trend in house completions which began in 1967 has not yet been halted, but I am glad to say that completions of houses in the private sector reached a record level in 1972, that more private houses are now under construction than at any other time, that local authority housing approvals this year are two-and-a-half times higher than for the comparable period last year and already exceed the total for 1971, and that house improvement activity in both public and private sectors has never been exceeded.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply to an adjournment debate! Looking at the figures over the last three years, does he not agree that a reduction, on average, of about 4,000 houses per year on the pre-1970 figure is quite disastrous, that the reduction has been of the magnitude of 50 per cent. on the public sector, and that he would have to go back to the 1947 period to find a lower figure than the one achieved in 1972? Will he now say when the present Government expect the housing figure in Wales to reach 20,000, as it did in 1967?
I am sure that every hon. Member agrees that one could juggle with the figures. The real prob- lem is that of human need. If we take the total number of houses in the private and public sectors, and the number of houses improved and therefore kept in the housing sector, the figures show that there were 25,893 in 1970 and 42,621 in 1972.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in my part of Wales we regard the prospect of any more houses being built as a thorough curse? Does this not show the utter falsity of global housing figures?
I think that what my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) is saying about global housing figures has a great deal of common sense in it. One cannot judge the problems of one area of Wales by looking at the global figure.
Will the Minister judge the problems of my area of Wales and those of my hon. Friends who represent South Wales valley constituencies? Will he recognise that the disaster that is being caused by not building houses is breaking hearts and homes in the valleys? Young families cannot afford private sector houses, they cannot afford to buy old houses to renovate because of rising costs and rising prices presided over by the Conservative Government, and they now have to live separately and start their married life in that sort of depressing atmosphere.
Will the Minister appreciate that in a period of two and a half years the Labour Government were able to raise the level of housing in Wales from 13,000 to 20,000? Why is it that at present, six years after the events of 1967, we are experiencing in Wales a lower level of house-building in the public sector than we have had in any year since 1946?
The hon. Gentleman refers to a figure of 20,000. I remind him that in 1970, when the Labour Government left office, the number of houses under construction in both the public and the private sectors was 16,609 and that for the first nine months of this year the figure was 20,733. He should read the figures.