HC Deb 21 November 1966 vol 736 cc913-4
5. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what machinery exists in his department to ensure that the prices of building materials do not increase during the period of the freeze policy.

Mr. Prentice

My Department has made arrangements for early warning systems for 12 of the most widely used materials. Arrangements for keeping a "constant watch" are being negotiated in respect of sand and gravel, as the early warning system is not appropriate to this industry.

Mr. Hamilton

What action did the Department take following the revelations that I made in an Adjournment debate in July about the prices asked and profits made by the firms engaged in the production and selling of cables? It does not seem to me that any action has been taken? Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the representations made by the Fife County Council, which were not complaining so much about the manufacturers as about the people in between the manufacturers and the users?

Mr. Prentice

I cannot answer those supplementary questions without notice, but I will look into the questions which have just been raised and write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of my constituents have been faced with an increase in the cost of buying new homes during the period of the wage freeze and that they were told that this was due to the increase in the cost of building materials? Is my right hon. Friend aware that it certainly was not due to an increase in the cost of labour?

Mr. Prentice

I should like to have more details of that from my hon. Friend. To date my Department has received 33 complaints about price increases. Some of these are still under investigation. Those we have investigated so far have not shown any increase which would be in breach of the prices standstill.