asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the difficulties encountered by local authorities, and other property owners, in maintaining cottages in a fit state of repair; and whether he will consult with the Minister of Health on this matter, and give instructions that no more building operatives are to be called up from rural districts, but that, if possible, the staff of local builders shall be augmented in order that the work should be properly overtaken?
The requirements of the Forces and the continuing needs of the Government building programme have inevitably made it necessary to draw on supplies of labour which might otherwise be available for maintenance work. Special regard is, however, paid to the difficulties of rural areas in considering applications for deferment of call up of men of military age, and men above that age are not withdrawn from essential agricultural maintenance work unless substitutes can be provided. In the present man-power situation it would be impossible for my right hon. Friend to undertake to increase the staffs of local builders for maintenance work.