§ 16. Sir Frank Sanderson
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he is aware of the serious damage which is being sustained to property in Ealing and district through the careless manner in which railings are being uprooted; that they are being removed merely by the use of sledge-hammers in unskilled hands; and, in view of this, will he consider making it compulsory for railings to be removed by acetylene burners so far as practicable, and in all other cases that contracting by the ton should be dispensed with, and replaced by contracting on a time basis?
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings (Mr. Hicks)
I am aware that damage has been done, in Ealing and elsewhere, and that in some cases this has been due to careless or unskilled workmanship. In all such cases the contractor is required to make good the damage; but there is inevitably some delay before this can be done. I regret that the burning off of railings is not practicable as a general rule, as the available supplies of gas and acetylene burners are urgently needed for war work of great importance. Various bases of contracting have been considered, but I am satisfied that the alternative of 1036 carrying out this work by prime cost contracts should not be adopted.
§ Sir F. Sanderson
Is my hon. Friend aware that as long as contracts on the present basis are continued, the contractors' only interest will be to collect the maximum amount of railings in the minimum amount of time, and that householders and property owners will have to suffer as a result; and will he not consider a more equitable means for the removal of railings?
§ Mr. Hicks
The question of other forms of contracts has been considered, but the necessity and urgency of getting this metal has been the condition which has decided in favour of these contracts. I hope that at a not too far distant date the property will be restored, I hope to the satisfaction of the owners.
§ Mr. Leslie Boyce
Will not the Department make representations to the contractors that they should not destroy property as carelessly as they are doing at the present time, when the removal of a few shillings' worth of railings causes many pounds' worth of damage?
§ Sir Herbert Williams
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the Ealing district gates of artistic value are taken away without the owner being given any opportunity to appeal?
§ Sir H. Williams
Has the hon. Gentleman read the letter which I sent to him, giving a case of gates valued at £12 being smashed, without any such opportunity being given, to obtain scrap valued at 1s 1¼d.?
§ 21. Mr. G. Strauss
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he will instruct the local authorities, particularly in London, 1037 not to remove iron railings guarding the basements in front of houses, in view of the serious danger of accidents to pedestrians in the black-out and to children at all times?