HC Deb 10 June 1943 vol 390 cc837-9
39. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Health whether he can state either the highest or lowest all-in estimate accepted from any contractor for each type of the 3,000 rural cottages?

43. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Health how many tenders for rural houses have been submitted to him for approval; how many has he approved; and the amounts of the highest and lowest tenders?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Ernest Brown)

In accordance with the statement of policy made in another place on 4th May the Government have reviewed the arrangements for building houses under this scheme in the light of tenders which have now been submitted by a number of local authorities in different parts of the country. Tenders for 220 houses have been submitted to me, and tenders for 54 houses have been approved. Of those approved, the lowest is £747 and the highest is £937: to these figures is to be added the cost of land, roads, sewers and architects' fees, which in the first case is £100, and in the latter £51. Local authorities have been informed to-day by a circular, copies, of which are being placed in the Library, that if satisfactory tenders for houses of the types already issued to them cannot be obtained, they should for these emergency war-time houses adopt an amended plan for smaller houses in blocks of four which has been drawn up by my noble Friend the Minister of Works, and that if they cannot obtain satisfactory tenders from local builders for the erection of these houses, he will arrange for their erection at an appropriate figure by one of several large builders with experience of war-time building. These plans will be sent to local authorities, and copies will be available in the Library. In those districts where tenders have been or are approved building operations should start at once. It is intended that the alternative arrangements for carrying out the scheme through the agency of selected larger builders will come into operation in those districts in which tenders are not approved by 8th July.

Mr. Bossom

Seeing the great time that has been taken to bring these cottages to this stage, is it not desirable to turn the matter of building all of them over to the Ministry of Works to avoid any further waste of time?

Mr. Brown

On the contrary, time would be lost now where satisfactory tenders have been or are likely to be Obtained.

Mr. Lipson

Can the Minister state the figure he has in mind for the rent of these houses? Can he give an assurance that not too heavy a burden will fall either on those who will have to occupy them or on the local authorities?

Mr. Brown

Rents were arranged under the original scheme—8s. 6d. a week for non-parlour houses and 10s. for parlour houses.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the Minister say why, after all this time, tenders for only 54 cottages have been approved? Can he give any sound explanation?

Mr. Brown

The explanation is quite clear. Some of the tenders were very high, and the Government as a whole felt it necessary to review the situation in that light.

Earl Winterton

If that is so, why did the Minister make the confident assertion a month ago that he was going to commence building in April and hoped that it would be finished by harvest? Why did he not show some prevision in this matter?

Mr. Brown

The answer is that since that statement was made the cost of building has risen a great deal.

Sir P. Hurd

Is the Minister aware that in Wiltshire urgently needed farm cottages which the Office of Works undertook to finish by February are not finished now? As a matter of fact, all that is to be seen on the ground are concrete posts and heaps of bricks. What assurance is there that the Office of Works will do better in the future?

Mr. Brown

That is not a matter for me.

Mr. Holdsworth

Is not the delay due to the answer we received yesterday—240 bricks a day?

42. Mr. Bernard Taylor

asked the Minister of Health the number of houses built by the rural district councils of England and Wales during the years 1924 to 1939?

Mr. Brown

One hundred and twenty thousand.

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