Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers. - Housing Statistics.

5.

asked the Minister for the Environment the number of local authority house starts in the first nine months of 1989.

Approximately 360 new local authority dwellings commenced in the nine months to 30 September 1989.

Does the Minister not agree that that is considerably fewer than the number of house starts projected to start in 1989, which the House was told would be 587 in a Parliamentary Question earlier this year? Does the Minister not accept that this number of house starts is totally inadequate in view of the long waiting lists in almost every local authority and the critical housing situation being faced by many families who cannot get local authority housing, which is putting stress on family life? When will the Minister approve the building of new local authority housing?

I agree that the figure is lower than had been indicated but the figure was not 587. I may have said it was hoped to start about 900 houses, that was the intention and it would have happened only for delays at the tendering process.

What went wrong?

There was a delay in the tendering process.

You control that process.

The delay meant that some houses did not start but I assure the Deputy that certain schemes have now been cleared. They will be started as soon as possible and will be added to what we intend to start next year.

Deputy Gilmore, I had hoped to invite your colleagues Deputies Byrne and Spring to ask a question each. We are not going to have a debate on the building of local authority houses. The Deputy has already got the information for which he asked.

In view of what the Minister has said — that the reason for the fewer house starts related to delays in the tendering process — will he explain how it is that a tender for house construction submitted by Dún Laoghaire Corporation in February 1987 to the Department has not yet been approved?

That is a separate question.

In view of the fact that so few houses have been started, when does the Minister intend to approve that tender?

That is a separate question.

I rather think that is what he might be getting at.

And you have the information too?

Of course I have.

So it is a related question?

It is a related question. There was a 25 house scheme, I believe, at Brookfield, Blackrock in the Deputy's area of Dún Laoghaire Corporation and it was approved to go to tender on 17 May 1989. It was agreed by all concerned that there was a necessity to co-ordinate the scheme with the remedial works scheme that was under way there as well. The tender proposal was not received in the Department until mid-November.

And it will start when?

Deputy Gilmore, we have already spent more than five minutes on one question. You have got the information you sought——

He got the real information.

——in the question. If the Deputy is not happy with that he will have to put down some question about Dún Laoghaire or other places later.

The information the Minister has just given is not accurate. I was referring to an earlier tender which had been submitted for 50 houses.

I have indicated that Deputy Eric Byrne is going to ask one question, as is Deputy Spring.

The Minister will be aware that in Dublin city thousands of people are on the housing list looking for accommodation and on the transfer list out of local authority flats. Will the Minister agree that a miserly 22 houses is insignificant for the Dublin area and that in his own area of Mayo he sanctioned 54 houses in the last year? Will he explain the disproportionate number of houses that went up in Mayo as against 22 for Dublin?

We are not going to have Bulfin's Rambles in Erin on this question. It is a specific question which has been answered and I propose to move on to the next one. I invite Deputy Spring to ask a question.

May I make the point——

I have explained to Deputies that the whole purpose of questions is to look for information and not to have a debate. The information is given on the question asked, not on a whole series of questions that might be relevant but not to the question put to the Minister.

Sir, as a new TD, I seek your guidance. How do I get the Minister to answer why Dublin had only 22 houses built this year while Mayo had 54? Is he arguing that the number of people——

The best guidance I can give the Deputy is that he asks a special question in his own good time as to the position in Dublin.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Spring is not going to take us——

I am not going to take you to Tralee; I am going to ask question which I hope is relevant to Question No. 5, and I am asking it out of concern for the 30,000 people now on waiting lists for local authority housing. I understand from the Minister's statement that they are now being faced with a waiting time of between five and seven years. Has the Minister anything to offer to those people in view of, by his own admission, his failure to build more than 300 houses, 600 fewer than was hoped? What hope can he give those people now for housing within a reasonable time?

It is a fair question. The preliminary indications from the housing needs assessment indicate a much lower figure than the 30,000 suggested by the Deputy. I cannot disagree wholly with him because the returns——

Are they in?

Not from about 20 authorities.

Are they in for Kerry?

No, unfortunately, and they have been reminded on several occasions. A considerable extra amount of money is being made available for housing in 1990. Some £33 million will be available for the housing construction programme in that year.

From second resources.

How many houses this year?

I expect 1,200 and Dublin will certainly get its fair share.

Provided they start.

Whatever about starts, I have decided the supplementaries on that question have finished.