HC Deb 18 December 1916 vol 88 cc1241-3

Notwithstanding any Order issued by the Minister of Munitions under Regulation 8 E of the Defence of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations, 1914, it shall not be necessary for any person to obtain a licence from the Minister of Munitions to commence or carry on any building or construction work for the purpose of the reconstruction, rebuilding, or restoration of any buildings or structures destroyed or damaged as in this Act mentioned.—[Mr. Nugent.]

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

I hope the Committee will agree that there is absolute necessity for this proposal. The property destroyed is in the very centre of the thoroughfare of Dublin, and there is no provision in the Bill to compensate the people for loss of trade. Every day that passes the losses of these people are increasing, because the local retail trade is gone. It is the situation of the premises that obtained the trade. Perhaps a portion of the wholesale trade might be regained, but even that would not be compensation for the transfer of their businesses to other portions of the city. There are special circumstances in this case, and it should not be necessary to obtain a licence from the Minister of Munitions to use special steel girders and joists. I am sure the Chief Secretary will recognise the necessity for a provision of this sort, and I hope he will accept this Clause, or else make some adequate arrangement with the Minister of Munitions for facilitating in every way the rebuilding of this destroyed property.


I beg to second the Motion. I put to the Chief Secretary some questions on this point, and he said it would be sympathetically considered. I asked that steel joists should be allowed, because this is property which has been erected on steel joists before, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept this proposal.


The difficulty in the way of accepting this Clause as it stands is that, in my judgment, and I think in the judgment of most Members of the House, it would be quite impossible to put a fetter upon the powers of a Minister whose powers are one of the fundamental requirements for the prosecution of the War, even in favour of the meritorious object which is here in question; but I can say that I communicated with the Minister of Munitions about this matter, and the importance of the provision of steel for the rebuilding of the various premises which are in question is fully appreciated at the Ministry of Munitions, and I am authorised to say that every means which can be taken to see that the restrictions upon the provision or steel which are now in force shall not interfere with the speedy prosecution of rebuilding in the streets of Dublin will be taken on the part of the Ministry. There are certain classes of steel which are perfectly useful for building and which are not under requisition for munition purposes, and, if those who have the arrangements of the building contracts act in concert with the Ministry of Munitions, I do not myself anticipate that they will find serious difficulty in proceeding with their work with all speed.


I think we might accept that statement, but the right hon. Gentleman might go a little further and say that he will also see that shipping facilities are granted, because the one thing is as necessary as the other. For my part, if the right hon. Gentleman will insist upon shipping facilities being also given, I accept his statement.


I will add this to what I have said: The Departments under the Government which have the control of shipping will be fully informed of the urgency of this matter, but, having regard to the prior claims there are on shipping for war purposes, I cannot go beyond that promise. The control of shipping is vital to the prosecution of the War, and I can only promise that every means will be taken in my own Department to see that whatever facilities can be given for this purpose shall be given.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.