HC Deb 07 May 1968 vol 764 cc193-4
6. Mr. Murton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what was the average value of the output per operative employed by a private contractor on the construction of new council houses during 1967; and what was the comparable figure for an operative employed by a local authority direct labour department.

Mr. MacColl

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Public Building and Works on 29th April to the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain).—[Vol. 763, c. 775–6.]

Mr. Murton

Is it not a fact that direct labour building costs have proved to be 30 per cent. higher than those of comparable private contractors? Should not the Minister rescind his predecessor's original instruction, and allow one in three tenders to be put out to private contractors?

Mr. MacColl

No, Sir. The trouble about the one-in-three rule was that it was far too rigid to enable direct labour forces to take advantage of large-scale contracts and obtain economies from large-scale enterprises.

Mr. Rippon

How can the hon. Gentleman possibly say that a provision to put one in three out is too rigid? Surely that gives sufficient flexibility to any local authority? It was in operation for years. Will not the hon. Gentleman reconsider this?

Mr. MacColl

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows better than anyone, the important thing is to get a good run so that one can obtain economies, particularly from industrialised building. That should apply equally to direct labour forces as to other tenders.

Mr. Julius Silverman

Is it not a fact that it is perfectly open to local authorities to put these matters out to tender if they desire?

Mr. MacColl

Yes, Sir.

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