HC Deb 08 June 1944 vol 400 cc1513-4
67. Mr. Jewson

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take steps to see that contracts for the advance preparation of housing sites are available to local building contractors and not confined to a relatively small number of large firms.

68. Viscount Suirdale

asked the Minister of Health to what extent experienced house building firms are being debarred from carrying out work on the advance housing sites.

70. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that it will increase the cost of building, place certain contractors in a privileged position, reverse previous Government policy of spreading work among the largest number of contractors and interfere with the rights and powers of the local authorities, he will reconsider the proposals in Ministry of Health Circular 14/44.

Mr. Willink

The object of this scheme is to carry out this urgent work with the maximum saving in labour and cost. No suitable firm is debarred from tendering and labour will be made available for any approved contract. The Government believe that in present circumstances grouping is the most efficient and economical method of doing this work and that the tenders, when received, will confirm this view. I am glad to say that over 60 groups have already been formed and some are now going to tender.

Viscount Suirdale

While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend for his statement that small builders will not be barred, is it not true that many medium or small firms are in fact barred by the policy of his Department, as shown in their circular 14/44, in which it is said that each contract should include an enormous area 60 miles wide covering 2,000 houses?

Mr. Willink

I do not recollect any reference to 60 miles in the circular but the whole policy is to do the greatest possible amount of preparation at this critical period of the war and we believe that it must be done, if it is to be done economically, on a large scale.

Viscount Suirdale

My reference to 60 miles is due to the fact that in the circular the Ministry refers to a radius of 30 miles, and I assumed that the diameter of the area might well be 60 miles.

Mr. Loftus

Has my right hon. and learned Friend consulted local authorities?

Mr. Willink

Yes, Sir.