HC Deb 30 October 1945 vol 415 cc233-4
46. Mr. Whittaker

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that premises needed for industry are being used for storage of CD. equipment; that the buildings are provided by the Board of Trade, are held by the Ministry of Works and goods stored in them controlled by the Home Office, and that when inquiry is made the matter is referred from one Department to another, with the result that the premises are not released; and will he consider giving authority to one Minister to deal with this disposal of stores and derequisitioning of premises.

Mr. Attlee

Many Departments own or control equipment, and it would not make for administrative simplicity or economy if one Department were made responsible for storage, disposal and derequisitioning. Suitable administrative arrangements have been made to secure co-ordination of storage, disposal and release of premises. If my hon. Friend has any particular premises in mind, perhaps he will bring them to the noticeof my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Whittaker

Is the Prime Minister aware that I have already done so? Is he further aware these premises are required for the export industry so urgently stressed by the Government, that in many the machinery is intact and could immediately employ large numbers of work people, and that the real trouble is that nobody can understand the reason for the continued storage of this redundant and now completely obsolete civil defence equipment which is perishing from disuse?

Mr. Attlee

If my hon. Friend has some particular case in mind, perhaps he will put it to the Minister. This question was more general.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the Prime Minister aware that this complaint is general all over the country and that some direction appears to be called for in order that those who are making efforts to expand their business premises shall receive some encouragement?

Mr. John Lewis

While I appreciate my right hon. Friend's difficulty about derequisitioning premises, would he say whether the administrative arrangements to which he refers have been put into effect and when their effect will be felt?

Mr. Attlee

They are in effect.

Mr. Sidney Shephard

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the end of September Government Departments were in possession of 138,000,000 square feet of industrial premises, and that industry very badly wants those premises back?

Mr. Attlee

That may be so. We are endeavouring to clear them as soon as possible, but I am sure the hon. Member realises that there are difficulties of labour and the rest that must be looked into. We cannot do the whole thing in a week or two.