HC Deb 27 November 1967 vol 755 cc17-8
30. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether, following the recent develop ment in the economic situation of the country, he will now set up a working party or other body to examine the possibility of the greater use of indigenous materials in all building construction in this country with a view to avoiding unnecessary imports.

Mr. Mellish

The Construction Materials Group, set up by the Economic Development Committees for Building and Civil Engineering, is looking carefully into the question of import saving, and my Department, in common with other Departments, is also working on this problem. I do not consider it necessary to set up any new body.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the group to look particularly at things like foreign ceramic tiles, foreign bricks, and timber where there are British substitutes for timber, and a host of things which are indigenously produced?

Mr. Mellish

Yes, Sir; I am sure that the group will do this. Let us give the industry credit for the fact that a great deal of research work has already been done in the provision of substitute materials for copper and a number of other things which have been imported in the past. Timber is a difficult subject. We have £100 million worth of timber imported per annum. Deliberate discrimination against timber which would affect our trading partners in E.F.T.A. is forbidden. The industry is doing a good job in this respect.

Mr. Costain

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that certain water company regulations prevent plastics being used? Will he talk to those concerned with a view to getting them to adopt a modern outlook on this commodity?

Mr. Mellish

I will certainly do so—if it will do any good.