HC Deb 20 December 1944 vol 406 cc1769-70
44. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Works what is the present position regarding the Portal House; and what has been the cost to date to the taxpayer.

Mr. Sandys

As I explained on 7th December, the production of pressed steel houses cannot begin until some time after the end of the German war. Orders have been placed amounting to rather over £1,000,000 to cover prototypes, jigs, tools and other preparatory work. About three-quarters of this sum is in respect of kitchen and cupboard units which are to be used also in all the other approved types of temporary houses.

Sir W. Smithers

Is this not another instance of a waste of public money because the officials in Whitehall will not take the advice of experts, and especially housewives?

Mr. Sandys

I do not know about any waste of public money. The hon. Member has not made it clear what he has in mind.

Mr. Shinwell

Who is responsible for giving the assurances about the erection of the Portal house, and creating the impression in the public mind that it was a possible proposition and one capable of immediate application? How is it that we now find it is impossible to proceed with it for a long time, if at all?

Mr. Sandys

That is a large question, which was fully discussed in the Debate a short time ago. I could not adequately deal with this in reply to a question.