HC Deb 24 February 1943 vol 387 cc155-6
34. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is aware that railings to the value of £1 10s. were removed, without due consideration, from allotments in Ilkley, resulting in a loss of food due to the moorland sheep invading the allotments; and whether he will allow the people employed on this work to exercise their initiative instead of having to interpret rules literally?

Mr. Hicks

Certain railings to allotments in Ilkley, the place, I understand, to which the song about the hat refers, which were scheduled for removal by the local authority under the Direction of the Minister of Supply, were dismantled after consideration of the circumstances. In consequence of subsequent representations locally the railings are now being reinstated. The risk of damage to crops by moorland sheep in this area is difficult to assess in individual cases, but the local officers of the Ministry of Works endeavour to exercise the discretion granted to them in this matter in such a way as to secure a due balance between this risk and the demand for scrap metal. I am happy to inform my hon. Friend that that has now been satisfactorily achieved.

Mr. Edwards

In view of the shortage of material and labour, and realising that this kind of thing is happening in thousands of instances, will not my hon. Friend give the local people a little scope for using their own intelligence instead of merely having to interpret rules literally? We are wasting £100 worth of food for the sake of 30s. worth of railings.

Mr. Hicks

I am rather apprehensive that my hon. Friend's percentages are a little too high, but the demand for scrap metal is very real and definite. There always is local consultation. In this case a mistake was made, and it is being repaired as speedily as possible.