§ 20. Mr. Erroll
asked the Minister of Works how many steel-framed office blocks are under construction in London at the present time; and how many of these are intended for use as Government offices, either temporarily or permanently.
§ The Minister of Works (Mr. Stokes)
Thirty-five steel-framed office buildings are at present under construction in London, of which three are Crown buildings and 15 will be leased for use as Government offices.
§ Mr. Erroll
In view of the fact that successful private business offices provide the money, through taxation, for the Government offices, is not it time that they had a bigger share of the new buildings?
§ Mr. M. Lindsay
Has the right hon. Gentleman calculated how many houses could have been built with the materials which are being used for these offices?
§ Mr. Stokes
Here again, Sir, confusion arises. The whole of the building force is not interchangeable. It is a great mistake merely to add up building materials and then try to equate them to houses.
§ 22. Mr. Somerset de Chair
asked the Minister of Works why, in view of the fact that there are 9,000 families on the waiting list of Paddington Borough Council for housing accommodation, application was made by his Department to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning for permission to erect a block of Government offices facing the mainline railway terminus; and whether he will arrange for flats for working-class families to be built on this site instead.
§ Mr. Stokes
My Ministry considered last year a proposal to build offices in Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, in order to accommodate the Edgware Road Employment Exchange (which is at present in a Church hall and in huts on a site required for Church purposes) the Ministry of National Insurance (which was then in a requisitioned school and two requisitioned houses) and the National Assistance Board, which was also in requisitioned houses. It was possible to make temporary arrangements to avoid building for the time being. I have no power, however, to require the owners of the site in question to build flats on it. No licence has been granted for any building on this site.
§ Mr. de Chair
Would not it be better for the Minister to consider the possibility of the erection of accommodation for the overcrowded people of Paddington in view of the drastic housing situation there, rather than to contemplate the building of all these offices?
§ Mr. Stokes
I have already said that the building of the offices has been put off, and I have no power to insist that the owners should build anything other than what they wish on the site.