HC Deb 08 February 1965 vol 706 cc6-7
23. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Health what plans he has for reducing the use of bricks in connection with the construction of new hospitals and for making greater use of modern substitutes such as prefabricated panels.

88. Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

asked the Minister of Health what information he has on the use of substitutes for conventional materials in hospital building.

89. Mr. Bence

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is now taking to encourage industrial techniques in the building of new hospitals.

Mr. K. Robinson

I am encouraging hospital boards to use industrialised methods. In order to forward this practice, a number of study groups, comprising officers of my Department and of hospital boards and architects, engineers and quantity surveyors in private practice are studying the design and use of structural and other components, including partitions and external cladding, pre-fabricated in a range of materials. I have also arranged for a number of experienced building contractors to experiment with the adaptation of their systems to the requirements of hospital building.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would not the Minister agree that the shortage of bricks looks like going on for a very long time and that, therefore, the greatest contribution that builders of hospitals could make in the next year or so would be to use all these modern methods of construction?

Mr. Robinson

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the new Greenwich Hospital is being designed in my Department so that the entire structure will consist of four basic components used repetitively many thousands of times—prefabricated beams, columns, floor slabs and fascia panels.

Mr. Bence

Will my right hon. Friend consult his hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation to ascertain whether it is possible to take over the surplus factory accommodation and equipment that can be released by the aircraft industry for the manufacture of products for the medical profession and hospitals?

Mr. Robinson

That might be considered, of course, in any redeployment proposals that are made.

Mr. Lubbock

What consultations has the Minister had with the National Building Agency on the introduction of this new construction system in hospital buildings?

Mr. Robinson

As far as I know, there have been consultations, but I am certainly not aware of the details. If the hon. Gentleman would like to put down a Question, I would be glad to give him a considered reply.

Mrs. Renée Short

In seeking advice on prefabricated hospital building, will my right hon. Friend not overlook the research establishment of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research—namely, the Building Research Station—which has done a good deal of work on this sort of thing? I am sure that it would be able to give a good deal of advice on hospital building.

Mr. Robinson

Again, I understand that there has been a good deal of consultation, but if my hon. Friend would put down a Question I could give her more details on that matter.