HC Deb 12 November 1969 vol 791 cc393-4
27. Mr. Brian Harrison

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will now announce his proposals for a State Building Corporation.

Mr. John Silkin

I have nothing to add to my replies to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) on 15th July, 10969.—[Vol. 787, col. 381.]

Mr. Harrison

Surely the shocking experience of direct labour departments, and most recently what has happened in Leicester, should convince the right hon. Gentleman that this ought to be buried, and that he ought not to pursue this matter at all?

Mr. Silkin

I do not draw quite the same conclusions as the hon. Gentleman does, and I perhaps do not share the same facts as he does.

Mr. Heffer

Is it nto clear to my right hon. Friend that there is a greater urgency for a p7blic building corporation now than ever before, first, to increase the house building programme, and, second, to ensure that there is a real standard in the building industry which all employers in the building industry can keep up to?

Mr. Silkin

I think, and I have said this before, that any proposals, whatever they may be, which can assist in the efficiency of the building industry and in the production of more houses are of great advantage.

Mr. Peyton

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a fact is a fact whether he has a share in it or not? Second, will he take credit for his reticence this afternoon in not wishing to add to a totally unsatisfactory answer which he gave me in July? I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman had the insolence to remind the House of it this afternoon.

Mr. Silkin

My reply to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question is, "Yes, I do take great satisfaction from it". With regard to the first part, I was trying to be very kind. What are facts to me are guesses to hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Fernyhough

Will my right hon. Friend disregard the bias and prejudice of hon. Gentlemen opposite in connection with direct labour schemes? Is he aware that Durham County Council's direct labour scheme has just completed a road project months ahead of schedule and saved £1- million on the contract?

Mr. Silkin

I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side of the House will be content if he disregards all bias towards direct labour schemes and simply judges them on the facts?

Mr. Silkin

I thought that that was what I was trying to do.