§ 11. Mr. Skinnard
asked the Minister of Health whether he will make it clear to local authorities that they are empowered to issue W.B.A. symbols in respect of materials ordered from builders' merchants for repairs of an urgent nature essential for the preservation of existing accommodation on the same basis as those now issued in connection with the provision of additional housing facilities.
§ 13. Captain John Crowder
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that local authorities are finding it impossible to obtain supplies of materials from builders' merchants for urgent repair works where a sanitary breakdown endangers the health of the occupants, where urgent structural repair is necessary to avoid collapse and where work is required by statutory notice or under bye-laws; and if he will therefore arrange for priority certificates to be issued for materials required for work of this nature.
§ Mr. Bevan
I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to similar Questions on 9th May about the supply of materials for urgent and essential repairs. Local authorities are not empowered to grant priority symbols, for maintenance and repair work, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works 507 and I do not wish so to empower them. Arrangements have, however, been made whereby builders' merchants who supply materials in good faith for certain classes of urgent repair work can obtain priority, if required, for the necessary replacements, and I think that this will get over the difficulties. I am sending the hon. Members a copy of an explanatory circular which has been sent to local authorities on the subject.
§ Captain Crowder
Is the Minister aware that public health committees are seriously perturbed by the absence of priority facilities so that landlords and tenants can comply at once with the orders given by their sanitary inspectors, and that Circular No. 146 does not give these necessary priorities, so that landlords and tenants can carry out this work?
§ Mr. Skinnard
Is the Minister aware that practice varies as between one administrative area and another, and that some local authorities are actually issuing W.B.A. priorities for replacements? Is he also aware that neighboring authorities which do not do so are having extreme difficulty in getting materials for builders and plumbers engaged on urgent repairs, because builders' merchants are disregarding his instruction to release small quantities without requiring symbols?
§ Mr. Bevan
There has been difficulty, which is inevitable in the circumstances. We are very anxious to prevent building materials going into black market repair work, and it is inevitable that, when we tighten up the supply of materials, some people will find themselves in difficulties. It is much easier to relax the operation of the circular than it is to prevent black market operations in building materials.
§ Mr. Bossom
Can the Minister say if his reply applies equally to the essential reconditioning of rural cottages?