HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc2-4
2. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what machinery exists for liaison between his Ministry, the Ministries of Housing and Local Government, Technology, and Education and Science for the implementation of metrication in the construction industry; what representations he has received from the industry on the rate of progress being made; and if he will list the practical experts with day-to-day knowledge of the production and financial problems who are being consulted.

Mr. Mellish

Metrication in the construction industry is a very large subject and a number of committees exist through which Departments exchange information and co-ordinate their decisions. I understand that progress so far is satisfactory, but if the hon. Member has any particular point in mind I should be glad to look into it. As regards consultation with the industry, I have set up a special working party of my National Consultative Council to identify and consider any specific difficulties that may arise.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the Minister aware that for metrication to work in the construction industry the change-over has to be made at the same time in various other industries, such as engineering, furniture, the manufacture of washing machines, cookers, and so on, in order that these will fit into houses designed for the metric units? Has he seen the proposal by the building industry for a metrication board to co-ordinate all these fields?

Mr. Mellish

Yes. The hon. Member must clearly understand that the construction industry has set the lead here. One industry had to take the initiative, and this industry has done it. In consultation with my own machinery we have ensured that the difficulties arising from their leadership are known and understood and that Government Departments will back them up. The consultation is very good indeed.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Has the Minister noticed that in the second last line of the Question practical experts are referred to? Scotland has a high proportion of such practical experts but does not get a high proportion of the work involved. Will my right hon. Friend look into this with a view to seeing that Scotland gets fair play?

Mr. Mellish

I do not know the nationality of the experts but, as far as I know, those we have are as good as one can possibly get, and I have no doubt that there are some Scots among them.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Since the Standing Committee on Metrication positively recommended the setting up of a metrication board many weeks ago, why the delay, especially as I understand it will cost virtually nothing?

Mr. Mellish

The metrication board is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology. I said in reply to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) that the construction industry took the lead. It follows from what they are doing that a number of things will have to fall into a pattern, if that lead is to become worthwhile. Arising from that, I have set up machinery following the implications of this lead. I take the hon. Gentleman's point about the metrication board and I hope that my right hon. Friend will be saying something about that.