HC Deb 14 April 1970 vol 799 cc1193-4
14. Mr. Kirk

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what delays are being experienced on Government building contracts as a result of the shortage of steel reinforcing rods; and what action he has taken in this regard.

Mr. John Silkin

The majority of contracts are proceeding without any serious delay although some are being held up. For projects under construction consultations between architect and contractor ensure that the delay in final completion is reduced to a minimum. For jobs not yet started, arrangements are being made for earlier ordering of steel reinforcing rods.

Mr. Kirk

In view of the fact that the average delay now seems to be of the order of four months, does not the Minister think he is being a little complacent about this hold up?

Mr. Silkin

I have checked fairly carefully into this because I thought the Question was of considerable importance. I find that the maximum delay in my Department is three months, and that is by no means typical. I have checked with other Departments and their conclusions are the same.

Mr. Costain

Has the right hon. Gentleman checked the fact that contractors working overseas are now badly held up for steel reinforcement and the Board of Trade is giving instructions to take from home demand? Is not this shocking?

Mr. Silkin

It is not, I fear, a problem isolated in this country, as the hon. Member is probably aware, but is occurring in many parts of the world. Delivery dates and cost are very much in favour of the United Kingdom in comparison with those of other countries.