HC Deb 21 December 1954 vol 535 cc2587-8
43. Mr. Turner

asked the Minister of Works whether he will now make a statement about the Report of the Monopolies Commission on the supply of buildings in the Greater London area.

Mr. Birch

Yes, Sir. As I stated in reply to the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) on 19th October last, the London Builders' Conference has abandoned the practices criticised by the Commission. I welcome and accept its assurances. Similar practices have been followed to some extent outside London and the Government take the view that these also should be given up.

In future firms will not be included on any list of approved Government contractors for new buildings if in tendering for such work they follow the practices criticised by the Commission. The firms already on the lists are being asked to confirm that they wish to remain there and accept this condition. This will make it unnecessary to continue the use of the form of declaration which was directed against these practices.

The attention of the associations of local authorities is being drawn to the Report and to the action taken.

Mr. Turner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the outcome of this matter, which he has just announced, will give very general satisfaction?

Mr. H. Hynd

Can the Minister say whether the ban on firms being allowed to contract if they do not comply with these conditions will apply to contracts for local authorities?

Mr. Birch

No, Sir. What I said applied to the Government list of tenderers. As the hon. Gentleman knows, local authorities follow different practices, and it will be up to them to decide what to do, but I am drawing their attention to what we are doing.

Mr. Gibson

Can the Minister say whether the recommendation of the Monopolies Commission to the effect that there should be a conference between the London Builders' Conference, the R.I.B.A., and other building interests, has yet been carried out, and, if so, what the result was?

Mr. Birch

There has been no general conference of the parties concerned. I have seen them individually.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that he will be able to check whether, in fact, these practices are continued or not?

Mr. Birch

I think that our ability to check whether they are being followed or not will remain as good or as bad as it is now. I think that we should be able to detect any flagrant abuse.