HC Deb 02 December 1959 vol 614 cc1162-3
16. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War for how long, on an average, hutted or other accommodation for troops, officially described as temporary, remains in use, in the United Kingdom and overseas; and why the skill of modern architects and designers is not used by his Department to ensure that temporary accommodation is of a reasonable standard of decency and comfort.

Mr. H. Fraser

No fixed period of use is laid down and the average life of temporary accommodation cannot readily be assessed. As to the second part of the Question, we have been seeking for some time—in consultation with the other Services—a hut which is comfortable, readily transported and erected, and which can be dismantled and used again. We think that this need is met by what is known as the Twynham hut. A number have been ordered, and will be available in the coming year.

Mr. Driberg

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that what I was really seeking from him was an official War Office definition of the word "temporary," which would be of great value to future lexicographers? Can he say whether there is any truth in the widely held belief that there are a number of huts still in use at Catterick and elsewhere which were erected as temporary accommodation during, or even before, the First World War?

Mr. Fraser

I cannot indulge in semantics with the hon. Gentleman, but our policy is clear. We want to build as many permanent constructions as we can. As the hon. Gentleman will discover if he looks through the Estimates, since 1947 £100 million has been spent on permanent accommodation. We are spending now at an even greater rate than the previous figure of about £8 million—at about £11 million—and we hope this year to spend more. It must be the case, with a changing Army and changing commitments, that we must make a major investment in permanent accommodation which in the long term is more suitable.