HC Deb 08 May 1950 vol 475 cc7-8
8. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that non-delivery of cement is endangering the continuity of urgent work on new roads, sites and buildings in the Braintree Rural District, Essex, and, in particular, that Messrs. Geo. Tanner and P. O. Wicks, Limited, of High Garrett, Braintree, had received by 28th April none of the 96 tons of cement ordered by them between 7th March and 26th April; and if he will endeavour to ensure greater regularity in the supply of cement to these contractors.

Mr. Stokes

I understand that the contractors have received a certain amount of cement which will, I hope, meet their most urgent requirements. My Department will give all possible help in connection with deliveries to important work that might otherwise be held up, if the contractors will supply the necessary details.

Mr. Driberg

Could my right hon. Friend say why there has been this irregularity and delay in delivery, and is he aware of the very serious effects of it?

Mr. Stokes

I know that there have been complaints from time to time. Wherever specific cases have been brought to my notice, they have been dealt with very promptly. I would point out that I control neither the distribution nor the manufacture of cement. I can only encourage both distributors and manufacturers to get on with the job, and that is what I am doing.

Mr. Braine

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this shortage is general in Essex and particularly acute in southeast Essex, and that it is holding up building work? Will he say what he proposes to do about it?

Mr. Stokes

I assure the hon. Gentleman that further deliveries to Essex are taking place this week. I think the fault really lies in distribution, and nothing else. There is plenty of cement.

Mr. Gibson

Is not it true that the amount of cement produced is adequate and that the trouble lies with the distributors? Are not they the people who ought to be hurried up?

Mr. Stokes

Yes, Sir. I would emphasise that there is some hitch in distribution. I am endeavouring to find out what it is, but, as everybody who has dealt with a complicated issue of this kind knows, one does not find the answer at once.

12. Mr. J. Enoch Powell

asked the Minister of Works what steps he has taken to alleviate the shortage of cement on Wolverhampton housing schemes, particulars of which were notified to the Regional Office of the Ministry of Health on 27th April by the Wolverhampton Corporation Housing Builders Committee.

Mr. Stokes

Satisfactory deliveries have been arranged for all sites where the precise requirement has been reported.

Mr. Baldwin

Will the Minister look upon this as an urgent matter, because there is a shortage of cement throughout the country? If he has no control——

Mr. Speaker

This Question deals with Wolverhampton, and not the whole country.