Skip to main content

Bomb-Damaged Houses (Repairs)

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works on what grounds it has been decided that contracts under the proposed scheme for the repair of C (b) houses on Merseyside shall be on a cost plus basis instead of the fixed price basis which has hitherto predominated?

It was decided by my Noble Friend after consultation with the Ministry of Health and the War Damage Commission that the cost plus system with adequate supervision offered the only satisfactory method of dealing with the accelerated repair of bomb-damaged houses in large numbers, by means of pooling the resources of local builders and operatives.

After all we have been told about the wastefulness and iniquity of the cost plus system, ought we not to have a rather more detailed explanation?

I think the hon. and gallant Member and others will appreciate that in repairing a bomb-damaged house it is very difficult to assess the degree of damage until the work is commenced. It is not like an ordinary contract.

Have they not been successful up to the present without the cost plus system?


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works on what grounds he has decided to introduce a voluntary scheme to pool all builders and contractors in the Merseyside area; and in what respects this scheme is superior to the present arrangement under which small firms have repaired and maintained nearly a quarter of a million houses since May, 1941?

The scheme to which the hon. and gallant Member refers is not confined to the Merseyside area but is being applied in all districts where there are substantial numbers of bomb-damaged houses. I am fully aware of the excellent work which small firms have done both in Merseyside and in many other parts of the country in the repair and maintenance of houses, but with a view to accelerating the repair of the large number of bomb-damaged houses, so as to make them habitable, the Government has decided that it is necessary to organise the work on a larger scale. The scheme, which will use, with certain exceptions, only immobile labour, employed mainly by the medium and small builder, has been devised so as to secure that the necessary labour is made available with the voluntary assistance of the industry, thus avoiding the more serious interference which would be caused by the operation of the normal method of direction. I am satisfied that such a scheme will produce greater efficiency and economy than a series of individual uncoordinated contracts.

Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that under this new scheme full use will be made of the great experience of the smaller men in the industry, so many of whom started as ordinary workmen and have worked their way up into their present positions and who have, in many cases, far greater experience than the big bosses who, apparently, will run this show?

I can readily give the hon. and gallant Gentleman that assurance, and I can also assure him that this scheme is designed to give them that help.