HC Deb 15 October 1942 vol 383 cc1747-8
26. Mr. Collindridge

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the grave shortage of houses in rural areas; that this position has been accentuated during the war by the extended area of production; and what action is being taken now to deal with this shortage, apart from the setting up of a Committee?

Mr. E. Brown

Yes, Sir; but any general schemes for the building of new houses must at present be suspended owing to the need for diverting all available labour and materials to works of vital strategic importance. The Government are, however, continuing to give facilities to local authorities for the erection of individual new houses which are essential in the interests of war-time food production, and for the reconditioning of existing houses occupied by agricultural workers.

Mr. Collindridge

Is the Minister aware of the increased demand for houses in these areas? If nothing is to be done, apart from the Committee, when may we expect the Committee to report?

Mr. Brown

My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. What we are working on at the moment are plans for the future. I am pointing out that there is no lack of understanding of the urgency of the problem. The sole question is when we can get labour and material which are not required for these great building enterprises of strategic importance.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is the Minister aware that the Minister of Works and Planning recently stated that available labour will be available very shortly?

Mr. Collindridge

On a point of Order, The Minister does not deal with the latter part of the Question, which expressly asks what action is being taken now.

Mr. Brown

I suggest that that is incorrect. If my hon. Friend will read the answer he will see the two particular cases in which I simply stated what has actually been done.