36 and 50. Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he is aware that, in view of the fact that by refusing to allow the Middlesbrough Corporation to purchase foreign cement, which they consider satisfactory for road-making purposes, at a much lower price than that demanded by the British combine, he is increasing the charge upon their rates for unemployed work; in these circumstances, will he make them an extra grant from the unemployed fund in order to compensate them for this extra burden;
(2) whether, in view of the special representations made to them by the Middlesbrough Corporation in favour of their continuing to buy satisfactory foreign cement for their unemployed road works at a saving of more than 9s. 6d. per ton over the British combine's price, he will reconsider his refusal to sanction these purchases, so as to qualify them for assistance from the Unemployed Grants Committee?
This matter is one for decision by the Unemployment Grants Committee, and I understand that, in view of the facts placed before them by the town council, the Committee are considering the matter further.
Can the right hon. Gentleman expedite a decision in this matter, seeing that the work is already in hand and unemployed labour is awaiting engagement, pending the decision?
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, may I ask is it not a fact that the purchase of 424 foreign cement tends to reduce the British combine's price?
I cannot answer the last supplementary question. I have already informed the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) this matter is not in the discretion of my Department, but in that of the Unemployment Grants Committee. I understand new information has been submitted to that Committee, which is no doubt the reason why the decision has been delayed.
Is it not a fact that this information was submitted last week and an early reply promised; and will the right hon. Gentleman bring pressure to bear on the Committee, seeing that this is an urgent matter and within his province?
I am sure the Committee will come to a speedy decision. The hon. Member says the information was only given last week, and they must be allowed a reasonable time.