HC Deb 18 July 1946 vol 425 cc1378-9
45. Mr. Sparks

asked the Prime Minister if he will state the precise responsibility of each ministerial department for the housing policy of the Government; in what way their various functions are coordinated; and how the conclusions of the separate Departments, when in conflict, are resolved.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

The Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland are responsible for housing policy, including the design of houses, in England and Wales, and Scotland, respectively. The Minister of Works has a general responsibility for the organisation and efficiency of the building industry as a whole, and advises on questions of building technique. He is responsible for erecting temporary houses, and for estimating the total requirements of building materials and components. He is also production authority for certain of the main building materials and components. The Minister of Supply is production authority for materials and components falling within the scope of the general engineering industry. The President of the Board of Trade and Minister of Transport are production authorities for certain other materials. Coordination is secured by regular meetings of the Ministers concerned under the chairmanship of the Minister of Health.

Mr. Sparks

In view of the experience already gained in coordinating the housing functions of the separate Ministries, can the Prime Minister hold out any prospect of evolving from this experience a single Ministerial Department?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. On the contrary, I think that anyone who examines this problem carefully will see that for a specific purpose like this it is quite impossible to pull to pieces Departments which necessarily have wider scope. It is quite a mistake to think that there is any economy in trying to lump everything on to a single Minister.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In order to win the last election, did not the Prime Minister specifically promise a Ministry of Housing?

Hon. Members


The Prime Minister

If hon. Members would not make so much noise, they would have heard that the answer was "No, Sir."

Captain Crookshank

Will the Prime Minister say, in view of all this machinery, what steps can be taken by anyone in order to get a house?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I think we are all familiar with that. I should have thought that it was common ground among Members on all sides of the House that no one expected that the entire housing deficiency resulting from the destruction of five years of war could possibly be overtaken in 12 months.

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