HC Deb 21 November 1966 vol 736 cc910-1
2. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will hold a Government inquiry into the building industry.

24. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what representations he has received asking for a Government inquiry into the building industry; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Prentice

The need for an inquiry has been put to me by a number of people in the industry and it was the subject of a resolution passed at the annual conference of the National Federation of Building Trades Operatives in June. I have come to the conclusion that there are particular problems of the industry that need further study, rather than holding an all-embracing inquiry.

I have just asked the economic development committees for building and civil engineering if they will arrange for a study of the structure of the construction industry.

Mrs. Short

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that there are many other very grave problems connected with the building industry which ought to be investigated at the same time, namely, the financing of the building industry, decasualisation of labour and the method of training? Will he include these in any inquiry he institutes?

Mr. Prentice

The labour question is the subject of Question No. 3. Progress on training can best be considered in the context of the Construction Industry Training Board, which is making good progress, but a number of other matters might be looked at from time to time. We have asked the E.D.C.s to look into the question of import savings within the industry and other ad hoc problems, but I should not like this to be held up because of a number of other things on which we need the answers.

Mr. Costain

As the right hon. Gentleman has decided to have yet another inquiry, will he give consideration to a comparison inquiry comparing with the building industry in other parts of the world? Does he not agree that only then shall we be able to view the industry in proper perspective?

Mr. Prentice

If, as I hope, the E.D.C.s take on the question of the structure of the industry, I hope they will take into consideration all experience overseas.