HC Deb 02 December 1981 vol 14 cc234-5
21. Mr. Bendall

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what problems have arisen over the construction of Airey houses; when the problem was first discovered; and what assistance and advice his Department has given to housing authorities and others on the matter.

Sir George Young

In some Airey houses corrosion has occurred in the steel reinforcement of the concrete columns forming part of the walls. The fact that there was a potentially serious problem first came to my Department's notice last December. After detailed investigations the Department wrote to all local authorities in May giving advice on methods of inspection and asking them to warn private owners and prospective purchasers of the possible presence of structural defects and of the need to obtain expert advice. The Building Research Establishment held a technical seminar for local authorities and others last month.

Mr. Bendall

Does my hon. Friend understand that the matter originally came to light in Barnsley in 1978, when the Building Research Establishment was called in? Why did it take so long from then until early this year to get the information out to other local authorities?

Sir George Young

There is no record of the Building Research Establishment having been involved in that year. It first became involved in December 1980 after the matter came to the attention of my Department as a result of councillors and local residents writing to it.