Housing

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st June 1978.

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Photo of Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas , Merioneth 12:00 am, 21st June 1978

In view of the shortage of time, I shall not comment on what has been said by other Members except to assure the hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Latham) that I would support him strongly in moving to disestablish the Church of England.

I should like to concentrate on expenditure on housing within Wales and on the related issue of the expenditure being allocated to the Welsh Office for its housing needs. The Under-Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Jones), will be familiar with my quoting statistics of public expenditure on housing per head by country in the United Kingdom and the fact that for the last year Wales was still £10 per head lower in its housing expenditure than the average per capita expenditure in the United Kingdom.

My major complaint is that the Welsh Office, instead of accepting the responsibility for the under-allocation of resources to Wales from the Treasury, has been conducting a well-organised campaign in the past year to blame Welsh local authorities for the housing position in Wales by accusing them of under-spending.

In reality, if we do a calculation of the real housing needs of Wales in terms of the amount of expenditure, we see that for the current financial year local authority capital expenditure on housing is just over £100 million. But if we calculate on the basis of the Department of the Environment's own indicators—namely, the need for house building, the number of houses unfit for human habitation, the extent of homelessness and overcrowding, the need for council mortgages on pre-1919 houses and the number of inner city programmes and partnership areas, and if we apply those six indicators to Wales, the calculation indicates that Wales should have received about £175 million in the current financial year's allocation.

Wales received only 4·1 per cent. of the total housing allocation for England and Wales although it needs about 180,000 new houses over the next 10 years. Whenever Plaid Cymru Members criticise the Government on their housing record and produce targets for the number of new houses, either new buildings or rehabilitations, needed in Wales over the next 10 years, we are always told that this figure cannot be quantified. When we came up with a figure four years ago of 25,000 new houses a year being needed in Wales, I was told by the Secretary of State that it was an interesting proposition from the point of view of research but that it was the sort of problem that could not be quantified.

I put it to the Government that on our calculations we need 180,000 new houses over the next 10 years if we are to tackle our housing needs. At present, we have 8 per cent. of the total number of pre-1919 houses in England and Wales and about 100,000 unfit houses—despite the boasting of the Secretary of State in a Press release on 2nd June which accompanied the belated publication of the house condition survey. We still have the appalling statistics of our major county, Mid-Glamorgan, where 20 per cent. of the population do not have an indoor toilet, 18 per cent. do not have a fixed bath in the bathroom and 18·4 per cent. have no wash basin. That is the position in the county represented by the Under-Secretary.

Not only do we have a failure by the Welsh Office to predict its housing need, but we have a failure to allocate resources from the Treasury to meet that need.