HC Deb 19 June 1967 vol 748 cc1107-8
25. Mr. Urwin

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what steps he is taking to increase the demand for brick and stone in the construction industry.

Mr. Prentice

The demand for bricks is now rising with the increase in building activity. Following a meeting held with representatives of the stone industry at the end of last year, my Department asked other Government Departments and certain non-Governmental bodies to consider using stone where appropriate in buildings for which they are responsible.

Mr. Urwin

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer and I appreciate what he is saying. Is he aware, however, that about 4,000 bricklayers and masons are currently unemployed in the construction industry? Apart from the social implications of unemployment, is it not essential, in the interests of the country as a whole, that the full resources of the construction industry should be utilised; that is, if we are to have any hope of meeting the targets which have been placed on the industry?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, Sir, and I think that the up-turn which is already beginning to take place will gather force later this year and next year. This should mean that we will be worrying about a shortage of labour rather than about unemployment.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Without commenting on the merits of the case, will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that the reference of brick prices to the Prices and Incomes Board may of itself prove something of a disincentive to brick producers?

Mr. Prentice

I hope that it will not, and I believe that the reasons for this step are well understood and appreciated by many of those in the brick industry.