HC Deb 05 August 1943 vol 391 cc2430-2
11. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health whether he has records or information of the number of houses damaged by bombing or blast but that could be made habitable; and whether he is in touch with military authorities in areas where there is a great shortage of accommodation, so as to secure, wherever possible, the release for accommodation purposes of buildings now occupied for war purposes?

Miss Horsbrugh

The number of houses damaged by enemy action and unrepaired to date because of the disproportionate quantity of labour and material required is 90,000. 2,750,000 houses have, of course, been first-aid repaired, and over 1,250,000 of these have received extended repairs. Close touch is kept both centrally and regionally with the military authorities regarding the use of housing accommodation for military purposes. If my hon. Friend has any special case in mind and will send me particulars, I shall be glad to look into it.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the figure of 90,000 to which the hon. Lady refers the number of houses that could be repaired after damage by bombing and not yet repaired? Is she aware that there are many areas where houses are now occupied by the military which, if the troops were transferred elsewhere, would be available for civil occupation?

Miss Horsbrugh

The 90,000 houses are those that could be repaired when there is a larger amount of material and labour. That does not take into account those that are completely demolished or not worth repairing. In reply to the second part of the question, the military authorities are using houses in some parts of the country, but if there are any particular cases about which the hon. Gentleman would like to let me know, we will look into them.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Is it not possible for the Army to accommodate their troops under canvas in order to release these houses for the very much needed occupation of civil workers?

Miss Horsbrugh

I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it depends on the locality. In some cases the troops can be put under canvas, but in other cases where they are in towns they cannot.

Mr. Thorne

Do the Department receive from time to time from local authorities the number of houses that could be made habitable?

Miss Horsbrugh

A close register is kept, and it is looked into carefully, of the number of houses that ought to be demolished, the number that are repairable by first aid or light repairs, and those that must wait.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is the hon. Lady aware that there are 50 empty premises up my street capable of being rendered habitable?

14. Major Lyons

asked the Minister of Health whether local authorities in bombed areas and especially in port areas that have been damaged are employing, or have power to employ, local architects and quantity surveyors to assist in planning and supervising the work of repairing and reconstruction, so as to avoid all unnecessary delay at the period when labour and material are available?

Miss Horsbrugh

Yes, Sir.

Major Lyons

Can my hon. Friend say whether these facilities are being made use of largely by the local authorities? Do all local authorities know their rights?

Miss Horsbrugh

As far as I know, they do. If the hon. Member knows of any local authority that does not know its rights, I shall be glad to inform it.

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