HC Deb 08 June 1944 vol 400 cc1511-3
58. Mr. Edgar Granville

asked the Minister of Health what progress has now been made with the promised 3,000 rural houses; and if he can give the number completed for occupation.

Mr. Willink

Approximately 80 per cent. of the building work involved in the construction of the 2,838 houses for which tenders have been approved has been done. 1,534 of those houses are completed and another 967 are roofed-in or at a later stage.

Mr. Granville

In view of the fact that some small builders gave up their labour and equipment for the construction of aerodromes and camps, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman see that they get their labour returned?

Mr. Willink

I am glad to say that there is quite a nice measure of return of such building labour to small builders going on at present.

Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

How many of these cottages are occupied?

Mr. Willink

Of the 1,534 completed houses, 1,111 are occupied.

Sir William Davison

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that Members on all sides are getting a great many letters from small builders saying that they are being entirely overlooked in these contracts and that they are much better able than big contractors to deal with local building?

Mr. Willink

I am not quite clear what my hon. Friend is referring to but I can assure him that we are very fully aware of the importance of small builders.

61. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the concern felt among local authorities in the rural areas of Wales at the prohibitive costs of constructing agricultural houses and complaints of prices being forced up by builders' rings; how many houses have been built in Wales under this scheme; the average cost per house; and what steps he is taking to deal with the complaints made to his Department.

Mr. Willink

I am aware of the concern felt about the high cost of house building at the present time, but no complaints of the nature indicated in the Question have been received by me. The last part of the Question does not therefore arise. Sixty-six houses have been completed in Wales under this scheme. The final costs of these houses are not yet available, but the average estimated all-in cost was £925 for non-parlour houses and £1,010 for parlour houses.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that complaints are being made to the Welsh Board of Health, which is part of his Department, about the very prohibitive cost of tenders?

Mr. Willink

There are many elements which make high costs inevitable in present circumstances. If any evidence is available as to prices being forced up by rings I shall be happy to consider it, but I have not received such evidence at present.

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