§ 20. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that the maintenance of 24 buildings in the Manchester and Salford area previously undertaken by his own works department is to be let out to private contract, and that the staff of building operatives employed has been halved in the last five years; and if he will maintain the present practice.
§ The Minister of Works (Mr. Hugh Molson)
I am aware of this matter. The practice my Department has followed for many years is to do maintenance work by the most efficient and economical means, whether that be direct labour or contract. I believe that it will be more efficient and economical to maintain these buildings by contract.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is the Minister aware that some of these buildings are only two miles from the city centre and that the building operatives and their union claim that this work is being transferred, not because it will be done any more cheaply, but because the Government are biassed against direct work in favour of private enterprise?
§ Mr. Molson
I have no bias against direct labour. I am seeking to get the work done as cheaply as possible and with the minimum of manpower. All these 23 buildings are more than two miles from the depot.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
What is the annual sum involved, and what economies does the right hon. Gentleman expect to effect?
§ Mr. Molson
I could not say offhand. I can only say that these 23 buildings are at such a distance from the depot that we think it would be more economical for the work to be done by contract.