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Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 12 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he proposes to take to improve the urban housing conditions of non-Europeans in our Colonies, especially in the areas of ports and municipalities, and on a basis both of economic and sub-economic rental; whether he will insist on all Governments and railways preparing plans for improved housing of their non-European employees once hostilities cease; and whether he has yet acquainted himself with the success of the work in these directions by the Central Housing Board in the Union of South Africa, notably at Port Elizabeth?

Measures for the improvement of housing conditions are being taken in a considerable number of Colonial territories, but their progress has been retarded by difficulties in obtaining personnel and material under war conditions, and by the prior claims of construction for military purposes. Expert advice is, however, being sought for those areas where the need is most immediate and I propose shortly to invite the attention of certain Colonial Governments to the need to proceed now with any planning which is an essential preliminary to the taking of early action when hostilities cease. Experiments with local materials are being carried out in several Colonies, and my hon. and gallant Friend can rest assured that experience gained in South Africa and elsewhere will not be overlooked in considering parallel problems in the Colonial Empire.

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend recollect the correspondence we had on that matter, and has he yet been able to acquaint himself with the material which was last submitted to his Department by the consent of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself?

I recollect having had some very interesting correspondence with my hon. and gallant Friend, but I must confess I cannot at the moment recall what his last suggestion was. I must look it up.

It is not my suggestion but a published document, which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was good enough to say he would consider if I sent it to him.

If I said we would consider it, I am certain we are considering it.