HC Deb 01 July 1952 vol 503 cc211-2
1. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Works what progress has been made in considering the greater use of softwood in building work in place of steel which, because of its scarcity, has been a major factor in slowing down the erection of schools.

The Minister of Works (Mr. David Eccles)

As I stated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. M. MacPherson) on 27th May, the use of timber in the place of steel is being examined as part of a general inquiry into economy in scarce materials.

Mr. Dodds

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Committee is expected to report? Is he aware that the report was expected at the end of May?

Mr. Eccles

I hope that the report will be made quite soon, but the difficulty, of course, is that we have to import both steel and timber and it is therefore rather difficult to decide in what proportion it would be safe to substitute timber for steel.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Could not pre-stressed concrete be used?

Mr. Eccles

I agree with the hon. Member. It may well be better than either steel or timber.

7. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Minister of Works for an estimate of the quantity and value at current prices of the softwood which would have been necessary if the houses built since the war had been built with softwood suspension floors as opposed to solid ones as laid down by the Government.

Mr. Eccles

Approximately 300,000 standards of softwood, the current value of which would be nearly £30 million, have been saved since the use of softwood suspension floors was stopped in 1946.

Mr. Donnelly

In view of those figures which the right hon. Gentleman has given, will he give a firm assurance that he is not contemplating rescinding this restriction at the moment?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, I can give that assurance; I am not contemplating it.