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Brooklands Motor Track—Accommodation For Navvies

Volume 180: debated on Wednesday 7 August 1907

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I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the want of suitable house accommodation for the navvies lately employed upon the new motor track at Brooklands; whether he is aware that hundreds of these workmen were obliged to find shelter at night in the open fields and hedges of the locality during the whole of the work, causing great hardship to themselves and inconvenience to the residents of the district; whether he can give the name of the contractors for this work; and what action, if any, he proposes to take to deal with this and similar conditions on the different public works of the country.

My attention has been called to this subject, and I directed one of the medical inspectors of the Board to make inquiry with regard to it. He has now sent in his Report, which will very shortly be published. It appears from it that he was satisfied that, at the date of his visit, many (probably 300 or more) of the men employed were without any proper lodging. I understand that the main contractors for the work were Messrs. Price & Reeves. I have instructed the inspector to make a further inquiry as to the housing accommodation generally of navvies employed on works under construction, so that I may be able to determine what action, if any, should be taken in the matter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman supply Members of the House with the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the conveniences at Brooklands? Is it intended that the inquiry shall cover most of the public works in England and Wales?

The doctor's Report is an eight-page document on this particular public work. It will be laid shortly. Having taken the whole facts into consideration I have come to the conclusion that as there are 100,000 men, women, and children dependent on public works of this character I will issue a Report with regard to the moral and sanitary conditions under which they work and live in the same way as has been done with regard to hop and fruit pickers in Kent and other parts.