HC Deb 25 April 1994 vol 242 cc4-5
3. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to promote the private rented housing market.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The opportunities provided by the Housing Act 1988, together with Welsh Office support, have already achieved an 18 per cent. increase in private rented housing between 1990 and 1992.

Mr. Thurnham

Is my hon. Friend aware that private rented housing makes a much greater contribution to housing need in most other countries than it does in Britain? Does he welcome the Opposition's somewhat belated recognition of the fact that that sector badly needs a boost?

Mr. Jones

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. The Opposition's recognition always seems to be belated; my hon. Friend could have described it as a death-bed repentance. The difference between the two parties is that there is a recognition of reality on the Conservative Benches, but a lack of it on the Opposition Benches.

I have referred to the 18 per cent. increase in private rented housing and we shall do even better than that. The last census showed that Wales is an increasingly better-housed nation, and we should make the best use of that housing.

Mr. Dafis

Will the Minister nip in the bud any idea that housing association grant should be made available to private developers and landlords? Does he accept that that would be a misuse of public funds and would lead to increased rents in what we term social housing, where rent levels are already causing concern to Tai Cymru?

Mr. Jones

I cannot accept such a blinkered approach to housing. We should remain open to all possibilities for making the greatest use of taxpayers' money to achieve the greatest provision of social housing. The hon. Gentleman might care to reflect warmly on what has already been achieved. Since the inception of Housing for Wales, there has been a 100,000 increase in provision.