HC Deb 18 March 1948 vol 448 cc2285-7
64. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that there are thousands of unemployed builders; that timber yards are so full that they cannot store any more; that brick yards are closing down because production is greater than the demand, particulars of which have been sent to him; and if he will immediately remove all restrictions and allow building firms to build houses and carry out repairs.

Mr. Bevan

The amount of new building work which can be allowed must continue to be related to the timber which can be imported. Timber stocks now in the country are not excessive and be needed to complete work in progress or projected.

Sir W. Smithers

When does the right hon. Gentleman propose to stop allowing political prejudice to prevent the provision of much needed houses for thousands of people all over the country?

Mr. Bevan

What I am doing is to enable houses to be built which would not be built if far more were started than could be provided with timber.

Mr. Baldwin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some builders have sufficient stocks in hand to build cottages, and are being refused licences?

Mr. Bevan

If some builders have timber in respect of which they have not received any licence to build houses they are acting illegally, and if the hon. Member will bring the facts to my notice I will have them prosecuted.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As hundreds of brickmakers in my constituency are to become unemployed in a few days, am I to explain to them that the reason is shortage of timber?

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member should explain that the number of houses approved is strictly related to the availability of timber. If hon. Gentlemen opposite are not satisfied why have they not take advantage of Supply Votes to discuss the housing programme?

Mr. A. Edward Davies

Will my right ho. Friend take note that 'some builders have made good progress in the building of houses, and will he give consideration to transferring some contracts from those people who have not made such good progress, so that unemployment will be avoided?

Mr. Bevan

That is an extremely difficult operation to carry out. It means revising the contracts already entered into between local authorities and contractors, and may give rise to claims for compensation. We have, however, succeeded in transferring many contracts.

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