HC Deb 20 February 1941 vol 369 cc266-8
9. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the request of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham to receive a deputation from the air-raid precautions committee of the Birmingham City Council to submit an appeal for increased labour supply for reparation work of devastated property and restoration of public utility services; whether a reply has been sent to the Lord Mayor; and whether he will act promptly to relieve the serious situation in Birmingham, due to the delay in reparation of damaged property?

Mr. Bevin

Yes, Sir, I am arranging for the deputation to be received.

Sir P. Hannon

Thank you very much.

25 Mr. W. H. Green

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he has considered representations from the Metropolitan borough of Deptford calling attention to the difficulty experienced in getting local contractors to give prior attention to orders placed with them for urgent first-aid repairs to damaged property; and whether he will consider exercising powers to ensure that such repairs are at least dealt with in the order in which they are received and not given second place to the execution of private orders for which a larger margin of profit may be possible;

(2), whether he has considered a communication from the council of the Metropolitan borough of Deptford calling attention to the lack of skilled labour of the type necessary to carry out work of first-aid repairs to damaged house property, which shortage is aggravated by such men being called up for service; and whether he proposes to take any action on these representations;

(3), whether he has considered representations from the Metropolitan borough of Deptford pointing out the difficulties caused by calling up for service members of the council staff who have trained technical experience needed to supervise necessary first-aid repairs to damaged property; and, as it is difficult to replace such men, whether he will consider taking the necessary steps to remove this difficulty?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I have received a letter from the Deptford Borough Council. Prior to its receipt, arrangements had been made for one of my regional architects to pay a special visit to the borough. He reports that substantial progress has been made with first-aid repairs, but I am arranging for my officers to confer urgently with representatives of the council to see what further steps can be taken. The points referred to by my hon. Friend will be discussed at this conference and with the other Departments concerned.

Mr. Green

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the difficulty which local authorities are experiencing in regard to private contractors giving preference to private work on which there is a substantial increase in profit as against council work?

Mr. Brown

That is one of the points which will come up at the conference. It is because of my understanding of the urgency of the matter that I have called the conference.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many Scottish buildings firms are idle, while London firms are working in Scotland? Why not bring the London firms back to their own area?

71. Sir P. Hannon

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether the function of providing supplementary labour for the reparation of damaged private property and the restoration of public utility services has been transferred from the Ministry of Labour to his Department; and whether he is taking active steps to meet the request submitted by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham for additional workpeople to deal with the grave situation which now confronts thousands of Birmingham citizens?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings (Mr. Hicks)

There has been no transfer of the Ministry of Labour's responsibilities in this matter: but my Noble Friend has endeavoured to afford, in addition, such assistance as he can.

Sir P. Hannon

Is a survey being made by the Ministry of the devastation which has taken place, in view of the desolate state of affairs which prevails in Coventry and Birmingham, or are active steps being taken to deal with the situation?

Mr. Hicks

I can answer that, although that does not arise out of this Question, my Noble Friend has made arrangements for as extensive a survey as is possible to be made in the towns that have been subject to the."Blitz"

Sir P. Hannon

Thank you.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

May I ask who has the responsibility?

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