When my hon. Friend discusses these matters with the chairman of the Housing Corporation will he place great emphasis on the distribution of the resources of the corporation between metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts? Is he aware, for example, that in the west midlands region in 1989–90 more than 90 per cent. of the corporation's resources went into the west midlands county—say, Staffordshire—leaving the vast area of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Shropshire bereft of resources? Some district councils are going out of their minds in their efforts to discharge their responsibility to provide housing. Housing associations are lined up and ground is lined up, but the resources are not available.
I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern. From 1992–93, we shall require the Housing Corporation to meet fully the requirements of the housing needs indicator. I hope that this will be helpful to the local authorities to which my hon. Friend refers. Although, in the current year, the corporation has fallen some way short of its target for new housing in rural areas, it assures me that it will make up the shortfall over the next three years. Against the background of a near-doubling of the resources that we are devoting to the corporation, there will be a substantial increase in the number of new units being provided in rural areas—more than 6,500 over the next three years. In addition, we have given local authorities the chance, in the next financial year, to bid for another £50 million of credit approvals—again, specifically earmarked for low-cost housing in rural areas. The Government give substantial support to the Rural Housing Trust, whose objective is to extend the coverage of the housing association movement in rural areas.
Does the Minister understand that if there is a ceasefire in the Gulf—and there should be—and if the squaddies come home, they will fight against homelessness, against cardboard city, against the poll tax and against the ravages of Toryism? That is what frightens the Government. The war should be stopped, so that our people may come home and join us in the general struggle against injustice.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments, although they fall rather wide of the responsibilities of my Department. I assure the House that my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning and I, together with our colleagues in the Ministry of Defence, will make certain that the right kind of accommodation is available for everyone who returns from the Gulf.