HC Deb 26 October 1939 vol 352 c1544
28. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Health whether in connection with contractors carrying out contracts for municipal authorities who are unable to claim the increased cost of material and labour, the Government will consider introducing legislation to make this permissible since great hardship is incurred by these contractors at the present time?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

The evidence at present before me does not suggest that there is a case for treating contracts for municipal authorities differently from other contracts. Where I have been consulted by local authorities I have suggested that, if they are satisfied that contractors cannot, without loss, continue to perform contracts made before the war, and some adjustment is equitable, the matter is one for agreement, and as at present advised I think it is best left to be settled between the parties to the contract.

Mr. De la Bère

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the firm supplying materials are having to meet increased prices in addition to war risks insurance, and that this is a hardship to contractors who entered into contracts prior to the outbreak of war?

Mr. Elliot

The method followed in the Great War was to work by agreement rather than by legislation, and I think that that is the most satisfactory way to deal with the difficulty.

Mr. De la Bère

I hope that my right hon. Friend will give this matter a little more serious thought.