HC Deb 11 November 1952 vol 507 cc738-40
2. Mr. Ewart

asked the Minister of Works what effect the shortage of bricks and cement in the North-East is having on the building programme; and how far the local authorities housing schemes are being held up.

Mr. Eccles

During the past building season the demand for bricks and cement in the north-east has exceeded all forecasts, with the result that here and there building work has been delayed. At present my officers know of two local authority housing schemes suffering from a lack of cement, and they are seeing what can be done to help. A number of local authorities have complained of inadequate brick supplies for housing. My Department has generally been able to suggest alternative sources of bricks.

Mr. Ewart

Is the Minister aware that there is no amelioration of the position today, and that complaints are still being received from local authorities and from the building trade about the serious disruption of the programme in this whole area because of the shortages mentioned in the Question?

Mr. Eccles

The hon. Member talks about serious disruption, but the facts are that in his own borough in the first nine months of 1951 there were 674 houses completed as against 851 in the first nine months of this year. It is because we have done better that we have certain difficulties.

Mr. Grey

Is the Minister aware that I have received information that certain buildings are at a complete standstill in Durham due to the shortage of cement? Can the right hon. Gentleman not do anything immediately to remedy this position?

Mr. Eccles

There is a difficulty there. I believe it is due to the fact that three out of the four kilns at the Billingham Cement Works are stopped for repair. It is hoped to have them going again in a week or two.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman do everything possible within his power to help his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to reach his housing target? Can we be assured that the right hon. Gentleman is not standing in the way of his right hon. Friend?

5. Mr. Hayman

asked the Minister of Works the average weekly despatch of cement to the South-West from the beginning of July to the latest convenient date.

Mr. Eccles

From 1st July to 18th October the average weekly delivery of cement to the South-Western Region was 12,892 tons.

6. Mr. Hayman

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to ensure regular and adequate supplies of cement to West Cornwall, parts of which have suffered, and are suffering, from shortage in supplies.

Mr. Eccles

I have already asked the cement industry to increase the deliveries of cement to Cornwall. For the South-West Region deliveries are running at 12½ per cent. more than in the corresponding period of last year, against the national increase of 9½ per cent.

Mr. Hayman

Is the Minister aware that the disruption of building work in Cornwall in recent months has been greater than for some years past owing to a lack of cement? Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that I had a complaint from a builder only this morning, and will he ask the Cement Marketing Board to increase supplies?

Mr. Eccles

The volume of work in Cornwall, I am glad to say, is very much greater than for years past. I have received advice from several people in Cornwall that the steps already taken have been of great advantage.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the very quick action he has taken in response to representations from other Cornish Members is very much appreciated?

10. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that there is a shortage of cement for building in Newport which is causing repeated delays in the erection of houses and flats; and what steps are being taken to augment the supply.

Mr. Eccles

I am not aware of any serious delay in Newport in the erection of houses or flats due to shortage of cement; but I have asked the cement industry to increase deliveries to South Wales as soon as they can.