HC Deb 03 March 1947 vol 434 cc13-4
26. Mr. Gooch

asked the Minister of Works if he will facilitate the provision of village halls and community centres in rural areas by enabling promoters of schemes to secure possession of Government surplus huts with the least possible delay and upon reasonable terms.

Mr. Key

No, Sir. Arrangements are already in operation giving priority to such applications for hutting for use as village halls and community centres as are sponsored by the Ministry of Education. The huts are sold at reasonable prices fixed by my Department. The number of suitable huts is small, and some waiting is, therefore, inevitable.

Mr. Gooch

Does my right hon. Friend realise that it may be some years before village halls made of brick can be completed? As Government surplus huts are deteriorating badly, could not they be put to better use?

Mr. Key

Wherever the necessary sponsoring by the Ministry of Education is given, my Department will do everything they can to see that huts are supplied.

Mr. Medlicott

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in practice, the huts cannot be obtained, except after months of protracted negotiations? If, as it now appears, the number of such huts available is very small, would it not be better to say so and prevent disappointment in hundreds of small village communities?

Mr. Key

I have said so.

Mr. Stephen

Has my right hon. Friend seen the serious allegations which have been made by the ex-Secretary of State for Scotland about the wastage of these huts in Scotland, and will he take steps to deal with them?

Mr. Key

I have seen the allegations that were made, and I have already started the necessary inquiries to see whether my Department have any responsibility for them. I doubt very much whether they have.

Mr. Martin Lindsay

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the scheme is completely nullified because local authorities cannot get huts owing to the owners of land being given priority? In many cases, the Owners of the land take the huts and later re-sell them. Will he answer that serious question?