HC Deb 24 July 1967 vol 751 cc22-3
1. Mr. Hilton

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works to what extent he has discussed proposals for the establishment of a national register for firms in the construction industry with Professor Norman Sidwell, and other interested parties; and whether he proposes to take any action as a result of these discussions.

The Minister of Public Building and Works (Mr. Reg Prentice)

I met Professor Sidwell on 24th April to discuss his suggestion for setting up a national register for firms in the construction industry. I am of course anxious that standards of building should be improved but I am not at present convinced that this can best be achieved by means of a compulsory registration scheme.

Mr. Hilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am asking him not to establish a precedent with regard to the setting up of a register for building firms but to create a more defined form of registration such as that which existed in the immediate post-war period, because large numbers of professional men, employers and union officials, would support that policy as being favourable to the construction industry? Will my right hon. Friend consider setting up an inquiry into the matter?

Mr. Prentice

My hon. Friend will be aware that the National House Builders Registration Council has been growing in strength recently. I think it better for the time being that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and I should watch the development and see how it gets on. Before we decide on anything else or set up any inquiry into the matter it is as well to see what progress is made on this front.

Mr. Urwin

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is in the best interests of all concerned with the construction industry that such a register should be set up involving, as it would, the vetting of firms before they can be admitted to the register and ascertaining their bona fides and financial standing and their expertise in order to eliminate to a large extent shoddy building?

Mr. Prentice

The Council to which I referred now covers the greater part of new house building. In major building and other fields there is usually some professional supervision of the construction, and so I am not really convinced that what is proposed would make a significant difference. However, I will consider any ideas that are put forward on the subject.