HC Deb 18 March 1942 vol 378 cc1494-6
26. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he is aware that there is serious delay in the erection of many buildings for Government Departments; and whether, in view of the strong feeling that the Ministry is overloaded, he will consider the former practice of each Department being responsible for its own building programme?

Mr. Hicks

Undoubtedly delays arise at the present time on all types of constructional works owing to the effect of war conditions on the supply of labour, materials and transport, and also as a result of changes in design. This applies to the works of all Departments and not to those of the Ministry of Works alone. I am not aware that there is any feeling that my Department is overloaded and in fact it has, during the past year, carried out, at a greater speed than previously, a much larger volume of work than it has ever undertaken before.

Mr. Edwards

Can the Minister explain why, in a certain case which I brought to his notice, the work is still less than 10 per cent. completed although the date for completion has now passed; and is it not a fact that Government Departments are getting rather tired of the incessant delays in the completion of work undertaken for them? Will he not consult with them to see whether it is not in their interests and in the interests of the Ministry of Works to revert to the former practice?

Mr. Hicks

We are constantly discussing things with the other Departments. As I informed my hon. Friend on a previous occasion, it sometimes happens that a target figure has been adopted for a particular work which has not taken into account all the physical factors making for delay which are subsequently encountered, and if sometimes that figure is not reached, there is disappointment, but I will take up what he says about closer consultation with the other Departments in order to facilitate progress.

Mr. Graham White

Will the hon. Gentleman look again at the answer which he has given, from which it would appear that he regards these delays as essentially due to war conditions, and does he not realise that in a time of war there ought to be no delays, and that the House is not willing to accept the war situation as an excuse for delays?