A wide range of measures has been introduced, including shared ownership, plots for sale, partnership schemes and flexi-ownership.
My recently announced initiative on bringing into use empty flats above shops will help to increase the total stock, as will the further reductions in mortgage rates announced last week and the suspension of stamp duty.
What would the Minister say to a constituent of mine whose business has been wrecked by the Government-created recession, whose home is to be repossessed this week because the Government's rescue scheme is too late and inadequate, and whose family face bed-and-breakfast accommodation because the local council has no council houses to offer because the Government have cut council house building in Wales by 90 per cent? Who is to blame? Is my constituent right to feel embittered against the Government?
The hon. Gentleman must recognise that we face a world recession. It is taking place in France, Germany and the United States. There has even been a reduction in Japan. We have the benefit of a Conservative Government who will put the battle against inflation at the head of their priorities for dealing with the recession. I am confident that we shall see the end of the recession in the next few months.
As for housing in Wales, which was the basis of the hon. Gentleman's question, in the last full financial year for which we have figures, 10,000 properties were built in Wales. That means that since this Government came to power, up to the end of March 1990, a total of 117,000 new homes were built. We have added to the housing stock in Wales by more than 10 per cent. since 1979. Housing for Wales, which is charged with dealing with social housing, is on target this year to build 3,500 houses and to invest £170 million in new social housing.
The Minister's reply is arrogant and insulting. It takes no account of the massive rise in homelessness, of the mortgage repossessions in all our constituencies and of record waiting lists. Welsh local authorities have almost half a billion pounds in capital receipts. Why will not the Minister release that money, which could be used immediately to start building 100,000 new homes in Wales? He should take responsibility for doing so or accept responsibility for his party's vote at the next election, when Labour will be returned.
As I said in answer to the previous question, local authorities can use 100 per cent. of their receipts if they sell land for low-cost home ownership. The hon. Gentleman's authority—Neath—has a debt of £25 million on its housing revenue account, yet last year it did not redeem a penny of it. Only a few months ago, Neath borough council complained that it did not have enough money for housing. In 1990 and 1991, it did not apply for any money from the top slice programme—for enveloping, for group repair and area renewal, for the homelessness reserve, for the reserve for private or defective dwellings or for priority estates. The hon. Gentleman should ask Neath borough council why, when money has been available, it has not applied for anything in the past two years.