19. Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Middlesbrough Corporation has recently carried out a building scheme for the erection of houses by the employment of direct labour at an average cost of £370 13s. 2d. per house, which was £20 19s. 6d. per house less than the lowest competitive tender received; and, in view of this economy of public money, will he encourage local authorities to build more houses by means of direct labour schemes wherever possible?
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain)
I am aware that the Middlesbrough Corporation have 584 carried out a scheme for the erection of houses by direct labour, but information as to the final costs of the houses has not so far been furnished to me by the corporation. With regard to the last part of the question, I do not think that in any event a general conclusion can be based on the results of a particular case, but, as I have previously informed the hon. Member, I am quite prepared to authorise local authorities to undertake building by direct labour if satisfied that the authority can make efficient arrangements for the supervision of the work, and that the method is likely to prove financially advantageous to the ratepayers.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this matter is of sufficient importance that he should get this information from the local authorities where these schemes have been tried? He might be in a position to advise the local authorities on the general question.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am quite ready to receive information from any local authority, and if my hon. Friend likes to represent to the Middlesbrough Corporation that they should send particulars, I should be pleased to receive them.
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstood me. I suggested that the matter was of such importance that he should ascertain from the local authorities what was their experience in the matter of direct building.