HC Deb 11 February 1947 vol 433 cc184-5
45. Mr. Bossom

asked the Prime Minister which Department is responsible for the building industry being unable to obtain, in appropriate time, the needed cast-iron gutters, pipes, wall ties and other metal products.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)

I have been asked to reply. The Ministry of Supply is responsible for production and the Ministry of Works for distribution. The difficulties being experienced by the building industry in this field are due mainly to the inadequacy of labour in the factories and foundries. Limited quantities of substitutes for gutters and pipes are available and these should be used where possible.

Mr. Bossom

Is the Minister aware that the absence of these articles is seriously holding up the housing programme, and at a time like this I am sure everybody would like to see that expedited as much as possible?

Mr. Greenwood

The Ministers are aware of the problem. In the factories and foundries where these things are produced, labour shortage makes it difficult at the moment to increase the output

Mr. Bossom

Is the Minister aware that there are controls and tolerances on certain of these articles which are unnecessary, and are carried to a ridiculous extent?

Mr. Greenwood

If my hon. Friend will acquaint me with particulars, I will have the matter investigated.

Mrs. Leah Manning

Is the Minister aware that if foundries were put under schemes of mechanisation, these very necessary articles could be turned out very quickly in spite of the shortage of labour?

Mr. Greenwood

Delay in mechanisation is very largely due to shortage of material and labour.

Mr. Vane

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what are the substitutes to which he has referred?

Mr. Greenwood

I am not aware myself, because I am not the Minister directly responsible for production. That is a question which could properly be put to the Minister of Supply.

Mr. Hogg

Would the Minister describe this as "chicken feed"?

Major Legge-Bourke

How can the right hon. Gentleman say that the Minister of Works is solely responsible for distribution when, owing to the goods traffic ban in the Eastern area, at any rate, goods have been arriving late at their eventual destinations? Will he say the manner in which effort is to be made to overcome that difficulty?

Mr. Greenwood

If there are cases of that kind and difficulties are due to transport, certainly we will have them investigated. I was asked what Department was responsible for this. There are two—one for production and the other for distribution. The Ministry of Transport and clearly the ordinary hauliers are the agents of the Ministry of Works for this purpose