HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc4-5
4. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what progress he has made since sterling devaluation, eight months ago, in imports substitution, by British produced building and construction materials; and what is his estimate of the value of such imported materials saved by British substitution, pro rata to a full year, since devaluation.

Mr. Mellish

For many years my Department has encouraged the use of home-produced materials whenever it was practicable and economic. The Construction Materials Group of the E.D.C.s for Building and Civil Engineering has considered the hon. Member's suggestion made in his Question to me on 11th March, and the building centres have volunteered to draw particular attention to new British building materials in their monthly list of new materials. The Construction Materials Group is also drawing the attention of architects to the need to pay close attention to competitive British materials in specifications.

No statistics are available to provide a meaningful estimate of import savings.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since the Prime Minister's statement on 16th January last, which laid heavy emphasis on import substitution, much greater urgency ought to have been imparted to this substitution programme? Cannot he translate into statistical reality by the beginning of next year the economies effected in this programme to date?

Mr. Mellish

The trouble with the hon. Gentleman is that he over-simplifies everything. It is not like this, or as simple as he suggests. First of all, one has to get the agreement of the professions involved; for example, the architects. One has to take into consideration our trading partners in E.F.T.A. It is not something which is done overnight. We are trying to get the good-will of the industry. I think that we have it, but time will tell. If it is a matter of providing information about how much we have been able to save, I will engage some more civil servants to get the information.