HC Deb 08 April 1968 vol 762 cc880-1
46. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works for what reason inquiries are being made in Finland by his Department with regard to obtaining suitable timber for the construction of accommodation for horses at the new Knightsbridge Barracks; what circumstances have arisen to make it impossible to accommodate British Army horses by using indigenous materials; and whether the matter will now be reviewed.

The Minister of Public Building and Works (Mr. Robert Mellish)

No such inquiries are being made. When the contract was let, timber from Baltic resources, among others, was specified because no suitable home grown timber was available. I am aware that home grown soft wood is now becoming available in small quantities, and I am asking my professional officers to consider in what circumstances its quantity, quality and price would make it suitable for future projects.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the right hon. Gentleman's Answer mean that all specifications put out to tender by his Ministry will in future require, as a priority, the employment of home-produced materials, especially timber, having regard to the fact that timber is the largest single commodity import of the United Kingdom, costing us more than £200 million per annum?

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Gentleman has been very good in pursuing this question, which I fully support in principle. He will know of the various professions involved. Our architects already know, through Parliamentary Answers to Questions, that, as Minister, I believe that the intention should be to prescribe that only British materials are used where possible.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Will the Minister say who advised him that home-grown timber was not suitable for horse boxes?

Mr. Mellish

I can only say that I have professional advisers. I understand that these horses are very fond of British wood, and chew it up.