'I am pleased to announce that, in response to the government's encouragement, local authorities have maintained the progress made in recent years. For the ninth successive year, there has been a drop in the number of empty homes.
'As at 1 April 1994, the total number of empty council homes stood at some 70,300, representing 1.9% of the stock. This is a 40% reduction since 1985, when the number stood at over 116,000.
'Within the overall total, `management vacants' - those ready for occupation immediately or after minor works - stood at some 40,600. Management vacants provide an indication of the empty homes available to meet housing need.
'I look to local authorities to sustain their efforts to keep their own empty dwellings to a minimum and to develop strategies which help to bring empty properties in all tenures back into use.'