HC Deb 14 December 1961 vol 651 cc87-8W
Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in view of the further representations made to him, what action he proposes to take to deal with the problem of corrosion in the prefabricated aluminium bungalows erected as permanent dwellings by local authorities between 1947 and 1951.

Dr. Hill

Two different types of bungalows are involved: the type B.2 detached bungalow and the semidetached type B.L.8. Both types are suffering from corrosion of aluminium structural members, and I am advised that experience has shown that the particular alloy used in their manufacture was unsuitable. It was derived from war-time scrap material.

After a thorough investigation, I am satisfied that the 13,000 type B.2 bungalows cannot be repaired at reasonable cost, and that many of them will have to be demolished before the loan charges on them have been met. In view of assurances given by the Government to local authorities at the time when these bungalows were erected, it has been decided to relieve the councils of the capital debt outstanding on bungalows which have to be demolished.

Legislation will be introduced for this purpose. It will be necessary to provide also for ending the annual subsidy payable on the bungalows, and for the net proceeds of disposal to be paid to the Exchequer. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has asked me to say that similar arrangements will apply to Scotland, where 2,500 B.2 bungalows were erected.

Some bungalows which are already badly corroded may have to be dealt with in advance of legislation, and emergency arrangements will be made to cover this. I have recently issued a circular to local authorities giving advice on the steps they should take. Parliament will be asked to sanction expenditure necessarily incurred in anticipation of the Bill by means of Estimates to be presented in due course. Pending the voting of supply, payments will be made from money advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund.

Different considerations apply to the 3,000 type B.L.8 bungalows. There is a good prospect that these can be repaired at reasonable cost; experiments to this end are still proceeding. If repairs are found to be practicable, I shall be prepared to consider contributing towards the cost if the need for such a contribution is established. I shall be giving advice to local authorities about these bungalows as soon as possible.

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