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Volume 409: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1945

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Temporary Houses, Fife


asked the Minister of Works whether he has given consideration to the resolution of the Fife County Council on the Government's temporary housing, forwarded to him by the hon. Member for West Fife; and whether he has any statement to make.

Yes, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to statements on this subject made both by the Minister of Health and myself, in the course of the Debate on Housing last week.

Is the Minister aware that the Fife county council has sites waiting, and that people are waiting to go into the houses, when the houses are supplied on the sites; and can he tell us when the houses are going to be sent and erected on the sites?

I cannot give the hon. Member off-hand the dates when houses will be delivered to particular localities, but any houses that have been promised will be delivered.

Can the Minister give an approximate date when they will get these houses?

Roofing Tiles (Supplies, London)


asked the Minister of Works whether the present supply of roofing tiles for the London area is adequate.

Tile-Makers (Release From Forces)


asked the Minister of Works the number of tile makers who have been released from the Army, Navy and R.A.F. during the past 12 months.

During this period 244 skilled tile-makers have been released from the Armed Forces and 20 from the Civil Defence Services.

Is the Minister aware that a great number of these brickyards, which will be needed even more in the near future than they are at present, cannot come into operation until the key-men are released from the Services?

We are very well aware of it, and that is why we have been getting the skilled tile-makers out of the Forces.

The number I mention—244—represents more than 10 per cent. of the total labour force now in that industry.

Ministry Of Works Office, Sheffield (Closing)


asked the Minister of Works whether he is satisfied that all proper interests were considered before deciding to transfer his Sheffield office to Leeds; and, as this action will cause delay and inconvenience if the people of the city of Sheffield have to transact their business in Leeds, will he reconsider the question.

The office in question has been dealing with bomb damage repairs and salvage. Work of this nature has diminished to the point where the retention of an office and staff is no longer justified.

Will the Minister bear in mind that Sheffield is a great centre of the steel industry, with large post-war problems of its own, and that it is not a suburb of Leeds?

Of course, I quite well appreciate that. The point is that this office is not a general office to carry out all the business of the Ministry of Works in the area. It was set up for the specific purpose of dealing with matters connected with bomb damage repairs and salvage. These questions now take up very little time, and we do not feel justified in keeping the office and staff going.

Emergency Repairs


asked the Minister of Works what are the emergency repairs which householders may undertake without licence.

The circumstances in which building work of an emergency character can be carried out without a licence are defined in paragraph 6 (b) of Defence Regulations 56A, of which I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him if he is satisfied that it covers all the most necessary urgent work, bearing in mind the fact that some local authorities take as long as three months to reply to an application for a licence?

The question refers to work that can be done without licence. The most urgent emergency work can be carried out without a licence. With regard to delays, I would like to tell my hon. and gallant Friend that, in London, where the £10 licensing limit has been applied during the last few months, the average time taken to issue a licence is under a week. Considering the other preoccupations of London local authorities at the moment, I do not think that that is slow.

Bearing in mind what the Minister has said, may I ask him to ginger up those local authorities which are raising the average to as long as three months?

Canadian Prefabricated Houses


asked the Minister of Works on what terms Mr. H. F. Brunton and Mr. C. B. K. Van Norman offered to supply 100,000 prefabricated houses from Canada; why the offer was not accepted; and if a specimen house was erected anywhere in this country.

This Question appears to be based on a number of misapprehensions. No such offer has been made by either of these gentlemen. The possibility of obtaining houses from Canada has, however, been explored at various times.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether a specimen house of this type is practicable?

A specimen house of another type does exist. I have seen this story in the newspapers. It is based on a whole series of misapprehensions. I should be glad to give my hon. and gallant Friend the complete story if he would like it.

Bomb Damage Repairs (Mobile Labour Force)


asked the Minister of Works if it is his intention to apply the mobile labour force, now engaged in war damage repairs in London, to help the other bombed towns in the same way as soon as the programme in London is completed.

As soon as the programme of emergency repairs in London is sufficiently far advanced, the mobile labour employed on this work will be released to return to the areas from which they have come.

Open-Cast Mining (Farm Rents)


asked the Minister of Works whether a farmer is relieved of the rent of that part of his farm on which prospecting for the purpose of working coal by open-cast mining is being carried on; or whether he is only relieved of the rent after his land has been requisitioned.

The position is governed by the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, of which I am sending my hon. Friend the relevant extracts.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say when a farmer is relieved of the rent?

I think it is a legal point, and I would not like to attempt to interpret the law.

Can the Minister say whether the farmer will have to interpret it, or whether he has to go on paying rent?