HC Deb 22 June 1964 vol 697 cc10-1
14. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Minister of Public 3uilding and Works whether he is aware that housing and civil engineering projects in South Wales are subject to considerable delay due to the shortage of brick supply; and what action he has taken.

Mr. Rippon

I have received reports that a number of housing projects have been delayed because of brick shortages, but I have no evidence of any widespread delay and construction work is running at a record level. I have kept in close touch with the brickmakers, who have taken steps to increase capacity.

Mr. Thomas

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that spokesmen for the civil engineering and house building industry in South Wales have expressed grave concern because there is up to a year's delay in the supply of bricks? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is feared as likely to cause unemployment in the industry, as well as delay on council house projects? Will the right hon. Gentleman give some sense of urgency to the matter?

Mr. Rippon

The production of building materials is at a record level, which should suffice to keep building labour fully employed. There are some difficulties in some areas, arising partly from a mild winter as a result of which stocks were run down more than usual, but brick production is now 6 per cent. above the record level of 1961. Manufacturers are taking steps to increase production and I am in close touch with them.

Mr. C. Pannell

Although we can take the Minister's figures overall, I remember reading in the technical Press only a week or two ago that there was a shortage in Scotland. The Minister says that he is satisfied with the overall position, but is he equally satisfied that it is uniform throughout the country? He will appreciate that areas of unemployment might be made worse if we had this sort of thing.

Mr. Rippon

I do not doubt that there are difficulties in certain areas. It is very important that local authorities, contractors and architects should decide at the earliest possible stage what they want and then register their demands. If they do that, they normally find that the position is satisfactory.