HC Deb 18 April 1946 vol 421 cc2872-3
16 and 17. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Health (1) how many local authorities he has instructed to stop building by private builders; and if he will place copies of any instructions which have been sent out in the Library;

(2) how many houses are affected by his orders to suspend building operations by private builders; and what compensation he is paying them for expenditure incurred by them in their contracts and for loss of business.

18. Commander Galbraith

asked the Minister of Health whether he will give an assurance that licences granted to private builders will not be cancelled in respect of houses on which work has already begun or for which commitments have been entered into by the builders concerned.

Mr. Bevan

I would refer hon. Members to the statement which I made in the House on 11th April. In particular, I would repeat what I then said, that no licence should have been with- drawn where the house had been begun, and that in cases where my attention has been drawn to the fact that that has happened, I am in touch with the local authorities. Where such discussions have taken place, the position has been put right. If hon. Members know of other cases in which a licence was withdrawn where building had begun or a contract been entered into, I should be glad if they would send me particulars.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his policy is holding up the building of much needed houses, especially in the Orpington area? May I ask him to reply to the second part of the Question, namely, will he put copies in the Library? Also, will he compensate builders who have had to stop, perhaps not the building of houses, but contracts which have already been signed?

Mr. Bevan

There is no obligation upon me to compensate anyone. The local authority have no instructions to stop licences where building had begun or contracts had been entered into, and. therefore, the issue of compensation does not, in fact, arise. Furthermore, as I explained on the other occasion, the revocation of these licences has not had the effect of preventing houses being built, because they were being built at the expense of other houses to let.

Commander Galbraith

Can we take it as a definite assurance that building licences will not be withdrawn where building has actually begun?

Mr. Bevan

Yes, Sir. This is about the seventh time I have said it.

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