HC Deb 06 May 1969 vol 783 cc255-6
18. Mr. Murton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he has yet received the Lloyd Thomas report on financial and management con- trol in local authority direct labour departments; and when he proposes to publish it.

Mr. Greenwood

I have received the report and a meeting has been arranged with the local authority associations to discuss arrangements for publication.

I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the members of the working party for their services.

Mr. Murton

Why did the Minister find it necessary in 1965 to abolish restraints on direct labour and two-and-a-half years later form a working party to try to make direct labour more efficient? Does he recollect that on 18th February he said that the report would be ready within a matter of weeks? Eleven weeks have elapsed and the House is still awaiting it?

Mr. Greenwood

Eleven weeks is a matter of weeks. I was not Minister of Housing and Local Government in 1965. When a matter is the subject of public debate, it is right that informed opinion should be available so that members of the public can make up their minds. I am a strong believer in direct labour departments, but I believe it essential that they should operate at the maximum pitch of efficiency.

Dr. Gray

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on criticising the Great Yarmouth County Borough Council for turning down the lowest tender which came from its direct labour department and choosing a private contractor in its place. Will he send instructions to all councils throughout the country to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen and he is not forced to intervene in this way in many other places?

Mr. Greenwood

My hon. Friend will understand that I have not power to do as he wishes, but I have no doubt that what he has said will be widely noted.