§ 35. Sir A. Knox
asked the Minister of Health whether he will reconsider the policy of grouping local authorities for the advance preparation of housing sites as, in effect, this policy results in the overburdening of a few selected large contractors who are given priority for material and labour, while similar facilities are withheld from the smaller firms which would be employed by individual local authorities.
§ Mr. Willink
I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply, of which I am sending him a copy, which I gave on 8th June to questions on this subject.
§ Sir A. Knox
Does the Minister not consider that, apart from its gross unfairness to the small contractor, this scheme is unsound, as the individual local authorities will not have charge of the houses when they are built?
§ Mr. Willink
I should not have given the advice I did, if I had thought the scheme was unsound. I assure my hon. and gallant Friend that a small contractor who can do the work with equal economy will have complete fairness, and quite small schemes are in fact being authorised now. This has nothing to do with the actual building of houses. This is an attempt to get the sites prepared with the utmost economy and speed during the progress of the war.
§ Mr. Bossom
Will the Minister give an assurance that this same policy of excluding small builders will not continue when it comes to building the houses themselves?
§ 36. Sir Leonard Lyle
asked the Minister of Health whether, if local authorities reject his advice regarding the aggregations of contracts and the employment of large scale contractors, he will give 2141 an assurance that this decision will in no way affect the right of such authorities to enjoy equal priority in respect of the provision of labour and materials if they prefer to engage a medium or small sized builder.
§ Mr. Willink
As explained in the reply which I gave to the hon. Members for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Jewson), Peterborough (Viscount Suirdale), and Chislehurst (Sir W. Smithers), on 8th June, the object of the grouping scheme is to ensure the maximum saving in cost and labour. The scheme is a voluntary one, but it will be my duty in considering tenders submitted for my approval to satisfy myself that the work will be carried out in the most economical way. Subject to that, as I have already explained, every facility will be given to approved contracts.
§ Sir L. Lyle
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there will be many small builders seeking to re-establish themselves at a most difficult time; and will he do everything that he can to encourage that laudable aim?