HC Deb 17 June 1968 vol 766 cc679-80
6. Mr. R. W. Elliott

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will make a statement on progress in saving time, money and manpower in the construction industry.

Mr. Mellish

Last year total output of new work increased by 5 per cent. although the number of persons employed in the industry fell by 2½ per cent.

My own Ministry's programme exerts a considerable influence on the industry. In addition, I am encouraging the development of training through the C.I.T.B. the dissemination of information on new methods of construction through C.I.R.I.A., and the introduction of new material through the Agrément Board. Site amenities, winter working precau- tions and artificial lighting are all requirements of my Ministry's contracts.

My policy is to promote greater efficiency and productivity in the construction industry.

Mr. Elliott

Yes, but has the Minister noted the comment by the President of the National Federation of Building Employers that over 50 Acts of Parliament have been passed since 1964 which have a bearing on the conduct of the building industry, that many of them have been ill-thought-out as to their consequences, and that all of them have increased costs?

Mr. Mellish

My personal relationship as Minister with the building industry is extremely cordial. I can only repeat that the industry can be proud of its achievement in taking steps to increase production from a smaller manpower force. The building industry used bitterly to criticise the Tory Government, too. The industry likes criticising: it enjoys that sort of thing.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is the Minister aware that in that same celebrated speech the gentleman concerned said that one firm spent 564 man days per year purely on filling forms? Is that the way to increase productivity and efficiency?

Mr. Mellish

I have already given an assurance on the question of forms. Some hon. Members opposite have Questions down today asking me for more information about the industry. If I comply with their requests, I shall have to send out some more forms.

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