HC Deb 28 June 1965 vol 715 cc14-6
23. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works how many Canadian-type timber houses have been erected by his Department in this country in the last 12 months; and how many have been ordered by local authorities.

Mr. C. Pannell

A new town corporation is in negotiation for 170 houses and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has approved 6 houses to be erected by a local authority.

Mr. Costain

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with this number of orders? In considering this system, will he bear in mind that it uses a large amount of plaster board which is in short supply? Will he consider how the use of plaster board in this type of construction can be avoided?

Mr. Pannell

Yes, Sir.

Mrs. Renée Short

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House what these timber houses cost? Does not he think that they are too expensive for the local authorities? Could not the houses be made here and the materials imported from rouble areas and not from more expensive dollar areas?

Mr. Pannell

I do not at the moment know the answer to my hon. Friend's Question. If she will put a Question down I will try to answer it.

Mr. Bessell

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that nothing will be done to discourage the use of timber-framed houses as a method of construction? Is he aware that they have proved satisfactory in other countries and that it should assist us in our trade relations with Canada?

Mr. Pannell

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Urwin

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there are several firms in this country manufacturing timber houses which could be used, perhaps, to better advantage economically than imported Canadian houses? Second, is he satisfied, in consultation with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, about the fire risks which prevail in timber construction?

Mr. Pannell

There has been a great deal of experience in timber-construction houses in other parts of the world. I do not know so much about the fire risk. We are prepared to consider on its merits any firm which builds houses, but I think that it would be rather wrong, after having sent a mission to Canada, if we were to attempt to disparage something on which the Canadians have co-operated greatly with this country.

Sir C. Osborne

If the Minister is not at the moment aware of the cost of these houses, will he be good enough to inform himself and let the House know what the cost comparison is with traditional houses? [An HON. MEMBER: "He said so."] I am asking the Minister himself, not a twerp of a back bencher. Will the Minister also say what is the expected life of these houses compared with traditional houses?

Mr. Pannell

If the hon. Gentleman cares to write to me on that, I shall attempt to set the matters out in great detail. When we first had the Question from the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) we were rather expecting another angle of questioning—I shall not say of attack—on it.

Forward to