Mr David Gibson-Watt: I cannot agree that the Government's housing policy is miserable. I repeat the figure I gave the House the other day. Taking the total of the public sector and the private sector, and the improvement grants in both sectors, we have a figure for 1968 of 26,000 houses improved on the housing stock whereas in 1972 the figure was 42,000, which is very different. It is a great improvement.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I seem to remember that the excuse the Labour Government had for England was different from the one they had for Wales.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I do not agree, because there has been a tremendous upsurge in improvement grants. In the past two years 1,000 more grants were approved for the modernisation of private houses in Wales than in the whole of the previous six years.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: As I told the hon. Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones) on 9th April, the average price of a new house mortgaged with a building society in Wales during the 12 months ended June 1970 was £4,436, and a second-hand house £4,216. Comparable figures for the 12 month ending 31st December 1972, the latest available date, were £5,983 and £5,909. These figures are based on a 5 per cent,...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: In 1972 about 5,500 building society mortgages were granted in Wales to applicants earning less than £30 a week. The hon. Gentleman should remember this when he advances that argument.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: There is still a demand. The right hon. Gentleman should remember that during the period when his Government were in office it would not have been possible for a young couple to borrow that money from the local authority on mortgage.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I understand that the hon. Gentleman has a Question down to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject today.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: In the 12 months ending 31st March 1973, 2,265 standard model wheelchairs were issued by the appliance centres in Cardiff and Wrex-ham; and 450 specially adapted chairs were issued on behalf of the Welsh Office by the Department of Health and Social Security at Blackpool.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The hon. Gentleman has raised a point of which I was not aware. I should like to consider the matter.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services and my right hon. and learned Friend are considering what might be done.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to improve the service. I have already visited the centre on more than one occasion, and under reorganisation, at a time in the future which I cannot yet specify, the matter will definitely be dealt with.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: The hon. Gentleman will be glad to know that as a result of a personal effort on my part I am at present asking for a three-monthly report about the nature of the delay. Since I took the matter up, the delay has lessened considerably.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: No, Sir. Waiting lists as a measure of housing needs are unreliable even for individual areas.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I shall not repeat what I have already said. It is the total number of houses available which is the main problem. With regard to the yardstick measures, the indications are that the new arrangements are having a significant effect on the number of schemes coming forward for approval.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: No, we have not specifically excluded it, any more than we ever do.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: This information could not be provided without disproportionate effort.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I will do so. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will write to me hi detail about the problem, and I shall look into it.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I want to put the hon. and learned Gentleman right on one point. This was made very clear in Committee. The recreational plan for Wales will be made by the Welsh National Water Development Authority, in consultation with the Severn-Trent Water Authority. It must have the final approval of the Welsh National Water Development Authority and the Secretary of State for Wales.
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I shall endeavour to answer most of the points that have been made by hon. Members on both sides of the House. As my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Sir Clive Bossom) has spoken, it might be reasonable if I first replied to his point and said that I am grateful for what he has said about Herefordshire. I do not think that Herefordshire has been entirely happy about the...
Mr David Gibson-Watt: I hope that no one will ask me which local authority that was.