HC Deb 15 November 1965 vol 720 cc658-9
12 and 13. Mr. Carlisle

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works (1) if he will give the figure for the number of bricks in stock at the end of September 1965;

(2) what he anticipates will be the number of bricks in stock at the end of the year 1965.

Mr. C. Pannell

Stocks of bricks at the end of September amounted to 233 million. I think they may rise to nearly 350 million by the end of the year.

Mr. Carlisle

Would not the Minister agree that this tremendous increase in the stocks of bricks during September, and the further vast increase forecast for the end of the year, exposes a really scandalous situation in which the industry has increased its output at the specific request of the Minister, only now to find that it has done it on a forecast which has been proved to be wholly wrong and incompetent?

Mr. Pannell

To answer the last part of that supplementary first, when I met the brickmakers on assuming office they told me that it took about three years to step up production—that is, to get new plant going and so on—and we have been in office for only about 12 months. The figure of 8,400 million for this year's production includes a figure of about 300 million for normal reserves. This is about one and a half day's supply and there was a severe shortage in the industry when I assumed office.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

In view of the Minister's hopeless failure to make a forecast even over a few months, how does he intend to restore the industry's confidence in relation to the five-year planning envisaged in the National Plan?

Mr. Pannell

The hon. Gentleman has as yet not even a nodding acquaintance with the industry. He will find that when I met the industry it was not lacking in confidence.

Mr. Manuel

To give an accurate picture of the position to the House, would my right hon. Friend state the number of days' supply of bricks held at the end of September and the number of days' supply the industry will be holding at the end of the year?

Mr. Pannell

Stocks of.bricks at the end of September represented about 11 days' supply. By the end of the year they should represent about 16 days' supply. When I took office there were about two or three days' supply of bricks in stock.