HC Deb 20 February 1941 vol 369 cc285-6
45. Mr. White

asked the Prime Minister whether the spheres of action, the scope and limits of responsibility as between the Departments of the Minister without Portfolio and the Minister of Works and Buildings have now been determined; and whether such transfers of functions from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport and the Board of Trade as may be necessary to enable the two Ministers primarily responsible to formulate a sound policy of reconstruction have: now been made or are in process of being carried out?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Attlee)

The Minister without Portfolio is the War Cabinet Minister in general charge of the study of all reconstruction problems. Within the framework of that general study, the Minister of Works and Buildings has a special responsibility for seeing that all practicable preparations are made for the physical reconstruction of town and country after the war. The preparatory work over which my right hon. Friends have assumed direction affects the work of many existing Departments, and an appropriate organisation has been established to ensure that they receive full assistance from these Departments in their study of reconstruction problems. As the functions assigned to them in respect of reconstruction do not at the present stage involve any executive duties, there has been no occasion to ask the House to consider the legislation that would be required to transfer any of the powers or duties of existing Departments of State.

Mr. White

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that these matters are being considered, having regard to the fact that practical difficulties will arise and are in fact now arising, and must increase unless appropriate steps are taken?

Mr. Attlee

I think the Answer I have given is sufficient at the present stage.

Mr. Wedgwood

May I ask whether in this connection there is not an urgent necessity for a general valuation to be ready by the time reconstruction begins?

Mr. Attlee

That hardly arises out of this Question.

Sir Herbert Williams

May I ask whether, the Minister without Portfolio now being the Minister for the future, any Questions can be addressed to him, or will they always be objected to on the ground that they are hypothetical?