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Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1992.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West 12:00 am, 20th January 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what new initiatives he intends to introduce to increase the rate of new house building in Wales.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

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.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

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?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

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.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain , Neath

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.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

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.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Does the hon. Member have a supplementary question?

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

No. I wish to give notice that, because of the disgracefully inadequate—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Does the hon. Gentleman wish to give the Minister notice of an Adjournment debate?

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

That is precisely what I am trying to do, if I may. I wish to give notice that, because of the Minister's disgracefully complacent answers, I intend to raise the crisis of housing in Wales on the Adjournment.