HC Deb 17 May 1944 vol 400 cc182-4
61. Captain Gammans

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works if it is proposed to exhibit the prototypes of the new fabricated houses in provincial towns.

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

After the various improvements contemplated by my Ministry as well as the suggestions made by hon. Members and others have been incorporated in the prototype, my Noble Friend proposes to send prototypes to each region. This will of course take some time.

Captain Gammans

Does not the hon. Gentleman want any suggestions made from the provinces?

Mr. Hicks

A number of people from the provinces have already visited the house.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Does not my hon. Friend think it would be better to assure local authorities that he will give them opportunities of seeing the house in their area instead of inviting them to come long distances to see it?

Mr. Hicks

That is the nature of the answer I have just given.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Apart from the invitation to local authorities to send one or two people to see the house, has any communication been sent advising them whether there is any action that they can conveniently take with regard to the provision of these houses?

Mr. Hicks

That must be a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Health.

Commander Agnew

In the model houses to be erected in the provinces will there be a place to stow a pram?

Mr. Hicks


Mr. Hugh Lawson

Will the hon. Gentleman see that at least one house is erected and lived in?

Mr. Hicks

That is the object of building them.

63. Mr. Higgs

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works what is the anticipated useful life of the experimental steel house erected at Pimlico.

Mr. Hicks

As my Noble Friend has stated in another place, these houses will be publicly owned and licensed for a period only. My hon. Friend may rest assured that the period fixed will not exceed the useful life of the house.

Mr. Higgs

May I ask the Minister to reply to my Question?

Mr. Hicks

I regret that I am unable to give any guarantee beyond what I have stated in my reply.

Mr. Higgs

Are we going to embark on an expenditure of £75,000,000 per annum and not know how long the houses and the equipment will last?

Mr. Petherick

Will the Minister be good enough to tell the House the usual life of an ordinary house?

Mr. Hicks

It is rather difficult to say, but I could give my private opinion. This house was conceived with a view to tiding over a difficulty between the termination of hostilities and the time when ordinary building can come more fully into operation. It is an emergency house and is not intended to last permanently, but it will certainly have the life of ten years which was originally contemplated for it. It will depend largely on how it is treated. If a house is treated kindly, it will last much longer than if it is treated unkindly.

68. Mr. Edgar Granville

asked the Minister of Health if it has been decided to commence quantity production of prefabricated steel-framed houses of the type known as the Churchill house, which has been exhibited in London, before practical tests of living experience in summer and winter conditions have been applied.

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

The prototype of the emergency house has not yet been approved and no decision to begin quantity production has been taken. As a result of many valuable comments and suggestions it is intended that it shall be modified in certain respects, but the Government would lay themselves open to severe criticism if they delayed the programme for the production of emergency houses in the manner suggested in the Question. My Noble Friend the Minister of Works has throughout had the scientific advice and collaboration of the Building Research Station, which is fully qualified to deal with all such problems.

71. Mr. Barstow

asked the Minister of Health if he will hold up the production of temporary steel houses until this House has had an opportunity of discussing their suitability for housing the people of this country.

Miss Horsbrugh

I would refer to the reply given yesterday by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore). As hon. Members are aware, the prototype has been open for inspection by Members and views expressed by them will be considered before any decision is taken as to its approval which must precede any decision as to production. Arrangements have, I understand, now been made to enable my Noble Friend the Minister of Works to meet interested Members of all parties and to give them a full account of the design and construction of the emergency house.

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