HC Deb 06 March 1967 vol 742 cc1025-6
8. Mr. Channon

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what progress has been made in research into the possibilities of a common trench of all services such as water, telephones and electricity.

Mr. Prentice

The Committee which I recently set up to examine ways of co-ordinating the installation of underground services on building sites will be studying, amongst other possible solutions, the use of common trenches; but it is too early to report on progress.

Mr. Channon

Would the Minister agree that that would be a very important step forward? Can he give us a likely date when we may get the report so that we may judge the matter a little further?

Mr. Prentice

It would be an important step forward but it is only one of the steps being studied by the Committee. There are many other problems of coordinating services on building sites. I cannot yet give the date when the Committee will report as it was appointed only at the end of last year. It has now met twice and is beginning a very important task. I realise the urgency of the matter, but at the same time the whole House would want the Committee to do a thorough job.

Mr. Manuel

If my right hon. Friend is considering the possibility of a common trench, would he make certain that research is developed into the safety of workers? We read almost weekly in the Press of far too many cases of trenches collapsing and workers being suffocated or badly injured.

Mr. Prentice

Various public utilities, trade unions and others are represented on the Committee and they will be doing research to support the Committee's work. The safety aspect will not be overlooked.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will the Minister arrange to study what the Dutch are doing in Eindhoven, where a tremendous amount of research into modern methods is going on?

Mr. Prentice

I am grateful for that suggestion. I shall draw it to the attention of Sir Donald Gibson, the chairman of the Committee.

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