HC Deb 08 May 1941 vol 371 cc980-1
62. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings to what extent con tractors and labour have been withdrawn from urgent Government works to carry out repairs to damaged houses; and whether he will consider arranging for reserves of labour to be earmarked and kept available for such work?

Mr. Hicks

Contractors and labour have been withdrawn in some cases from urgent Government works to meet immediate requirements after very heavy air attacks. But such withdrawal has been purely temporary. Ordinarily, it is considered that the better co-ordination of local building contractors and labour should provide the necessary means of meeting the demand for house repair; and this is now in hand. It would not, in the Ministry's opinion, be justifiable to hold reserves of labour which would not be fully occupied when not actually required for air-raid damage repair work.

Mr. Taylor

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that in present circumstances there is a large number of houses which can be made habitable with no great amount of repair, but which are not being made habitable because of the shortage of labour in a particular area?

Mr. Hicks

I can assure my hon. Friend that this is a matter that will necessarily receive very urgent consideration. We have been commissioned by the Prime Minister to give such work priority, and in each and every case where practicable men will be drafted in order to give temporary services to put houses into habitable condition.