HC Deb 30 June 1943 vol 390 cc1615-7
36. Mr. Wakefield

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether the agricultural cottages to be built by his Department are to have concrete floors and stairs?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. Hicks)

In the agricultural cottages to be built to the Ministry of Works' specification, there will be no concrete floors with the exception of the larder and W.C. The kitchen, hall and bathroom will be quarry tiled. The living room floor, staircase and the bedroom floors will be of timber.

Mr. Wakefield

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that local authorities and others who have desired to use timber for floors, stairs and so forth have been unable to use it because of the shortage of supply, and how is it, if there is this shortage, that timber can be used for these cottages?

Mr. Hicks

An application has been made to the Timber Controller, and timber has been released.

Mr. Shinwell

Are these the agricultural cottages we heard about many months ago or some other cottages?

Mr. Hicks

My hon. Friend appears to have a good memory.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Will the Minister give a further explanation of the known fact that cottages built by his Department seem to have a call on any amount of timber and that those built by anyone else are restricted by his Department?

Mr. Hicks

My Department have not built any of these houses yet.

37. Mr. Wakefield

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works how many prefabricated dwellings for agricultural key workers have been built for which his Department is responsible; what was the cost per dwelling and per foot super; and what was the shortest and longest time taken from the decision to build being made and their fitness for habitation?

Mr. Hicks

The Ministry of Works has so far built 10 married quarters for agricultural key workers. The cost is about £600. The cost per foot super is 19s. 5d. The actual time taken in building varies between three and five months.

Mr. Wakefield

Is the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied with the speed of erection and the price of these buildings?

Mr. Thorne

Does not my hon. Friend think that in these questions it would be better to mention feet and yards instead of super feet, so that we can understand them?

Mr. Hicks

All you have to do is to multiply by nine.

Mr. Stephen

Can the Minister tell us why the cost is so much greater than the pre-war cost?

42. Mr. Butcher

asked the Minister of Health whether local authorities were advised by his Department that if difficulty were experienced in securing materials or labour for the construction of cottages for agricultural workers, his Department would make available reserves of material and introduce the necessary labour?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Horsbrugh)

Local authorities were informed in the Circular which my right hon. Friend sent to them on 4th February that every priority for labour and materials will be accorded to approved schemes.

Mr. Butcher

While I thank the hon. Lady for her reply, is she aware that this Question was addressed to the Ministry of Works, and is it not the policy of that Department to transfer all awkward matters to other Departments?

Mr. Hopkinson

Is it not a fact that the situation has changed since February, and that the promise of assistance from the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Works is now of no value whatsoever in this matter?

Sir A. Southby

Does the word "material" cover timber?

Miss Horsbrugh

Yes. I am glad to say that the prohibition that the Ministry of Works imposed for the houses at first, saying that timber was not to be used, has now been rescinded, and timber will be permitted to local authorities for exactly the same purpose as announced by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works.