HC Deb 10 March 1949 vol 462 cc1388-90
44. Mr. George Thomas

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that, although there is a waiting list of 19,000 people, the Cardiff City housing authority plan for the construction of 1,000 houses only during the current year; and whether he will take steps to have this target increased.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

Yes, Sir. Further proposals will be considered in relation to progress made with the initial allocation of 1,000 houses to Cardiff City.

Mr. Thomas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply will be received with satisfaction in Cardiff, where the supporters of the Opposition have steadily conveyed the idea that my right hon. Friend was preventing the council building as many houses as they would like?

Mr. Bevan

I am aware that this happens in very many parts of the country, but the election figures are an answer to that silly propaganda.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Does making the target bigger make it easier or more difficult to hit?

Mr. Bevan

The answer is, as the hon. and learned Member should know and as all Members should know, that the size of the housing programme is limited by the available building materials and labour, and that if we added to the housing programme considerably it would be at the expense of other forms of building, like hospitals and such like places. I should like the Opposition to tell us whether they would rather have fewer hospitals.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to carry out the suggestions of the Girdwood Committee and secure a great deal more efficiency in labour and thereby build both houses and hospitals?

Mr. Bevan

The answer is that the Girdwood Committee made no recommendations as to efficiency. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman should read the Report again. It is primarily concerned with the price of houses and not the organisation of the building industry. But I accept, as the building industry is almost entirely a private enterprise industry, that there is room for more efficiency.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will read the Report of the Committee and ascertain from it the valuable advice that is given.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is only entitled to ask a question.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Will the right hon. Gentleman read the Girdwood Committee's Report with the object of deriving the maximum possible information from the very valuable statistics with which they were concerned, and—

Mr. Jeger

On a point of Order. What has this to do with Cardiff City Housing?

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Will the right hon. Gentleman do his utmost to secure that the industry is given conditions under which private enterprise can most efficiently function?

Mr. Bevan

The industry has been provided with all the contracts it is able to carry out, and there is a Committee now appointed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works to go into the organisation and efficiency of the building industry, which was not one of the terms of reference of the Girdwood Committee. And so the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is as inaccurate as usual.

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