HC Deb 04 August 1943 vol 391 cc2290-1
46. Wing-Commander James

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the apprehension that has been aroused that the Ministry of Works is to continue as a Department after the war emergency period; and whether he will give an assurance that this will not be so, or that no decision will be made without affirmation by Parliament?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware of any considerable apprehension on this matter. The functions relating to Government lands and buildings previously discharged by the Office of Works, and now assigned by Statute to the Ministry of Works, are of course permanent, as is the legislation establishing the Ministry, unless repealed by Parliament. The powers relating to control of building materials, licensing of non-Government building and the like, which are now exercised by the Ministry by virtue of Orders in Council under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts will automatically fall to be reviewed when these Acts expire; any arrangements which may then seem necessary will require the sanction of Parliament. But hon. Members will realise that as indicated in the White Paper on Training for the Building Industry (Cmd. 6428) that industry will occupy a special position in the Government's plans for reconstruction and employment after the war.

Wing-Commander James

Would the right hon. Gentleman have regard to the expressions in the Debate on Friday week last, when from all parts of the House there was almost universal condemnation of the present actions of the Ministry?

The Prime Minister

I think it would be most unjust if that were so, because I have rarely had the pleasure of working with a more competent Minister than the present Minister of Works.

Sir H. Williams

Is the Prime Minister aware that there are now six Departments separately responsible for different aspects of building and that it is impossible to get a decision about anything without reference to the six Departments?

Mr. Shinwell

May I be allowed to state that what has just been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) does not represent opinion on this side of the House?

The Prime Minister

As to the six Departments, more and more of the actual conduct of affairs is passing into the hands of the Minister of Works.

Sir H. Williams

Is the Prime Minister aware that the powers of planning have recently been taken away from that Minister, and therefore powers of planning are passing away from him and not to him?

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