HC Deb 31 January 1945 vol 407 cc1449-50
45. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the changed conditions of the war and the increasing shortage of houses, particularly in Scotland, he is now prepared to reverse the Government's decision to stop all house building and give equal priority to house building in England and Scotland both as regards labour and materials as is given to the production of war material and the calling up of men for the fighting Services.

Mr. Attlee

A beginning has been made with the building of temporary houses and the permanent house building programme will be resumed as soon as the necessary labour, now required for essential war purposes, can be released. In the meantime the work of preparing sites is being pushed on rapidly.

Mr. Kirkwood

Arising from that reply, which is anything but satisfactory, I have asked in my Question if the Prime Minister is prepared to reverse the decision to stop all house building. I want to know the reply to that, because it is well known that we are right up against it in Scotland with regard to housing.

Mr. Attlee

House building has never entirely stopped in Scotland during the war. Thirty-five thousand houses have been completed since 1939, and there are 3,500 houses now under construction. The point is, as my hon. Friend knows very well, that it is a question of the available labour. He refers to the changed conditions of the war, but conditions are not changed as regards the demand for labour, which is at its peak just now.

Sir Irving Albery

With regard to labour, have any steps now been taken to bring back from other industries men who were originally in the building trade?

Mr. Attlee

That is a separate question, and perhaps my hon. Friend will put it down to the Minister of Labour.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Does the original reply mean that steps will be taken to release men for this work?

Mr. Attlee

We cannot do more than deal with the labour situation as it is, and the needs of house building must be weighed against the urgent demands of the war. The urgent war demands must come first.

Mr. McKinlay

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been imposed on the building industry in Scotland something which holds back such houses as are being built? Will he take steps to have the Ministry of Works removed from Scotland bag and baggage and let them get on with the job themselves?