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Agricultural Workers

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 20 May 1943

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asked the Minister of Health whether internal fittings required in the proposed scheme for the construction of 3,000 cottages for agricultural workers are to be supplied by open tender by builders' merchants, or direct from bulk supply?


asked the Minister of Health whether local builders' merchants are to be invited to tender for the supply of internal fittings for the 3,000 cottages which are to be built for agricultural workers?

Internal fittings will not be provided from bulk supply. Local authorities will make their own arrangements for purchasing the requisite supplies, and they can invite competitive tenders; but they are being asked to pay regard to the need for economising in transport when placing orders.

May I express my gratification at the Minister's answer and ask whether he will be good enough to look into a special case which a local council has turned down?


asked the Minister of Health on how many of the authorised 3,000 rural cottages has construction been commenced; whether he is satisfied with the progress being made; and, if not, what is the principal cause of delay?

No building has yet commenced, but the necessary preliminary arrangements have been largely completed. By May 14th, 1,065 sites to take nearly 2,700 houses had been selected and approved, detailed plans for some 1,30o of these houses had been approved and tenders for substantial numbers of houses are expected shortly. Bearing in mind the large number of separate sites throughout the country and the wartime difficulties of staffing I think that the rural district councils have carried out the preliminary work which is their responsibility with speed and energy.

In view of the fact that the House was given to understand that in not one instance anywhere has construction yet commenced, will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to urge this matter as one of great urgency?

We are doing all we can, but when builders are invited to tender we must wait until the tenders come in.

The answer to that has been given before. The House has been told that this is the largest number that can be authorised in the light of the present stringency in labour and materials.

42 and 43.

asked the Minister of Health (I) whether he will arrange for each of the authorities who now separately examine the plans of wartime agricultural cottages, to delegate the task of examination and approval to one of their number to be selected by him; and if this is not possible can he state the reason preventing this procedure;

(2) how many authorities are now separately examining and approving each set of plans and proposals for each group of war-time agricultural cottages; and what is the approximate length of time it takes for the average set of plans to circulate to all these authorities and be returned to the persons responsible for them fully approved and available for immediate use?

As a rule, the rural district councils building these cottages submit the plans only to my Senior Regional Architect, who has been authorised to approve them, after consultation with the Regional Planning Officer of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. The delegation suggested has therefore already been made, and the remaining parts of the Questions do not arise.

Could my right hon. Friend, who has told the House 'on another occasion that there are something like half a dozen authorities who have to approve some of these plans, say whether there are any cases in which one person alone is allowed to approve them?

We have worked it out in this way and, I would describe it, in this simpler form. In the other case I was asked a question, and Ministers have to do their best to answer the questions which are put to them.

Could my right hon. Friend say that there are no plans for cottages now that require more than three authorities to approve them?

No, I would not say that, because I do know of rare and exceptional instances where a rural district council does not happen to be the planning authority and a particular case might arise there.