HC Deb 28 October 1952 vol 505 cc1717-8
20. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Minister of Works the present production and stock position of bricks, cement and other building materials; and how these figures compare with a year ago.

Mr. Eccles

In the first nine months of 1952, the production of bricks and cement had each increased by over 9 per cent. on the same period of 1951, and is continuing to rise. Brick stocks vary and, generally speaking, are adequate in the South, but inadequate in the North and in Scotland. Cement stocks are low, following a busy building season, but it is hoped will recover soon when production overtakes reduced winter demand. I do not expect serious difficulties with other materials for which I am responsible.

Sir I. Fraser

Can we then say with fair confidence that there are stocks to satisfy the Government's most progressive building policy?

Mr. Eccles

The stocks of bricks and cement are low, but as the production of both these materials is rising, I think that if we can keep it going at a good rate during the winter we shall cope all right this year.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is the Minister taking any special steps to deal with the brick shortage in the North-East of England?

Mr. Eccles

I am taking steps to deal with the general brick shortage, and I am also looking into the particular problem of supplying bricks to the North-East of England. The difficulty there is one of transport, but I hope it may be overcome.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that one of the practical dangers of expediting a housing programme is that there is danger of the running down of materials, and will he be careful that in whatever building programme which is envisaged it is kept in balance so that there will be regular work for the people employed in the industry?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, Sir. Of course, success beyond our expectations brings difficulties. But we think we can solve them.