38. Mr. THOMSON
asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the demands made upon the building operatives for a reduction of wages in order to reduce the cost of houses, he will state what is being done by his Department to secure a corresponding reduction in the cost of building materials by breaking up the rings and trusts which are artificially inflating prices to the great detriment of the public?
64. Mr. THOMAS HENDERSON
asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the urgent necessity of a large number of houses being built in the near future at a reasonable cost, he will state what steps he proposes to take to prevent, the rise in price of building material through the operations of rings, trusts, and combines?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Viscount Wolmer)
The Ministry of Health and the Board of Trade are fully alive to the question raised by the hon. Members. The situation is being carefully watched and the question of what steps can be usefully taken is now under consideration.
is the Noble Lord aware that a similar reply has been given in this House every time a question on this subject has been put for the last 18 months. Cannot the Noble Lord, who is fresh to office, expedite action in this matter?
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am very glad to know our predecessors also appear to have carefully watched the situation.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
If that is the only satisfaction Parliament is going to get, will the Noble Lord—still strictly in accordance, with the line followed by his predecessors—institute an inquiry after the exploitation has been going on for a year or two?
§ Viscount WOLMER
The hon. Member is aware there have already been a number of inquiries. I can assure him the Government do not propose to sit idle on this question, but it would be exceedingly ill-advised to do anything without careful consideration first.
§ Mr A. V. ALEXANDER
Is it not a fact that the present President of the 1539 Board of Trade told the House in March, 1921, on the Board of Trade Vote, that the Government would introduce legislation?
§ Mr. HARDIE
Has the Board of Trade any knowledge of any shortage of any class of building materials for houses?