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Building Costs

Volume 391: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1943

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asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the rapid and disturbing rise in building costs, coupled with diminished output, which threatens seriously to affect post-war housing and repairs, he will move to appoint a Select Committee of the House to investigate the position?

The question of building costs during the war period may give a very false impression, owing to the fact that heavy contributing items in those costs are solely due to war-time conditions. I cannot accept the implication of diminished output. It would be difficult to establish comparative costs on the types of war-time building which are so different from normal building construction. The costs of erecting war-time houses are naturally high. As a result of widely different local conditions, accentuated by war-time difficulties, there are extreme variations in the tenders received for the agricultural houses from the 381 areas in which they are being built. During the last ten weeks a costing section has been established at the Ministry of Works, which is concentrating on the question of the costs for post-war building. The point put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend is thus being dealt with on a practical basis, and I do not think that at the present time there is any need for the appointment of a Select Committee.

In view of the fact that Parliamentary time has not permitted of a survey of the activities of this strange Ministry, and if a Select Committee is not the appropriate form, can the right hon. Gentleman devise some form whereby the administration of this Department can be looked into?

Will the prices now ruling in the building trade be prevented from continuing after the war is over, as I rather gather from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that something on that line is contemplated? Can we have an assurance that the prices now ruling will not be continued?

Was not our experience during and after the late war diametrically opposed to the supposition of the right hon. Gentleman in answer to this question inasmuch as building costs mounted higher and higher after the war?