Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - House Completions.

11.

asked the Minister for the Environment the number of house completions in the public sector, actual or estimated for 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Local authorities completed 5,686 dwellings in 1982 and 6,190 dewllings in 1983. Pending the completion of a review currently being undertaken by my Department it is not possible to say how many local authority dwellings will be completed in 1984. Neither am I in a position to say how many dwellings will be completed in 1985.

Would the Minister agree that the need for public sector housing is on the increase, particularly in the urban areas? Will he assure the House that adequate provision is being made in the current year and next year to ensure that the needs for local authority houses will be met?

I am sorry I do not have the actual figures but it appears that this year's figures will be slightly above last year's and the situation will be similar for 1985. That is as far as I can go.

How many local authority houses are being built in 1984?

At the end of the year it should be in excess of 6,400.

What is the number of applications for local authority houses?

That is a separate question.

Off the top of my head, I think it is 29,000.

Does the Minister consider that a house building programme of 6,400 local authority houses annually is adequate to meet the needs of approximately 30,000 aapplicants on local authority housing lists who have no means of providing adequate shelter for their families from their own resources?

In 1982 we built 5,600 houses, in 1983 we built 6,100 and this year the figure will be in excess of 6,400. That is a positive improvement.

Does the Minister consider that an annual house construction programme of approximately 6,000 is adequate to meet the needs of approximately 30,000 applicants for local authority houses who, by definition, are unable to provide shelter for their families from their own resources? They would not be approved applicants if they were able to provide homes for themselves.

With regard to any programme one has to take into account the finance available. Over the last two years there has been an increase in local authority house building and this is a positive indication that we are concerned about this problem. We have also introduced a £5,000 grant for people living in local authority houses to encourage them to provide their own houses, thus making more local authority accommodation available for those who need it.

I want the Minister to answer my question.

This is argument.

Is the Minister satisfied that the housing programme is adequate to meet the needs——

That is a statistical question. We cannot have an argument.

——of all those on the housing authority waiting list? Is the Government's attitude to——

The policy we are adopting will reduce substantially the number on the local authorities' waiting list.

Will the Minister state if any examination has taken place in his Department to see if the resources available for local authority housebuilding could be in part better used to produce a larger number of house completions by allocating part of the funds available to direct labour schemes?

I have not had notice of that question. The question of direct labour schemes has been the subject of ongoing consideration by various local authorities. In the local authority in Dublin city it was not accepted. We felt that the system of public tender would produce more houses at a cheaper price. That was the view of one local authority but others have different views. It is a matter for the local authorities themselves to decide which way they want to proceed.