HC Deb 15 April 1948 vol 449 cc1159-60
44. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the growing lack of work for many small building firms, he will now allow local authorities to issue further licences for private enterprise building.

Mr. Bevan

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) on 18th March.

Mr. Hurd

How far does the Minister want the building industry to disband its resources before he will allow local authorities more discretion in this matter?

Mr. Bevan

Local authorities have already received, in the last few months, a very large number of additional approvals. There is no question of the building industry being dispersed. In fact, there are far too many building firms in existence for economic operation.

Mr. J. H. Hare

Could the Minister say whether or not he would allow great latitude for the reconditioning of houses for rural workers in the country areas?

Mr. Bevan

Circulars have been sent out to authorities generally relaxing the conditions and rules relating to repairs, but it would be undesirable to do that in the rural areas if it were done at the expense of new accommodation.

Mr. Grimston

Referring to the reply of the Minister to the last supplementary question but one, are we to take it that it is the policy to drive the small firms out of business?

Mr. Bevan

No. If the hon. Member would acquaint himself with the facts he would realise that we have made special arrangements for small firms to build houses for sale to the local authorities, where they are too small to be able to place tenders in the ordinary way. It is a fact that the building industry is in many respects grossly inefficient because there are too many firms.