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Government Contracts (London Area)

Volume 409: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1945

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43.

asked the Minister of Production to what extent an embargo has been laid upon the placing of certain Government contracts in the Metropolitan aea; whether it applies to the provision of parts of houses, temporary or permanent; and will he give particulars.

There is no embargo upon the placing of contracts in the London area, either for the production of munitions or to meet essential civil requirements, including the provision of parts of houses. In view, however, of the continued existence of an. exceptionally large number of unfilled vacancies for essential work of high priority in London, it has been arranged that, for the time being, Departments will avoid placing contracts there when the work can be done equally well in other places where the shortage of labour is less acute.

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that the method by which this embargo, for it is an embargo, is being carried out means that no contract will be placed in the London area unless it cannot be placed in the provinces and that this will mean that a number of businesses which have been established in London for many generations will be put out of business altogether because they are unable to obtain any material with which to continue their pre-war work?

There is in fact no embargo. Much new work is being placed in London and there is a direction of work to the provinces where it can be done there equally well as in London, where there is an acute stringency of labour.

Is the Minister aware that there has been a very substantial reduction in production in certain parts of London because no contracts have been placed, and that there is a great deal of unemployment arising out of this? Is he aware that many people are rather worried about it?

That is a very partial picture. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is very misleading.

Is it a fact that the Ministry of Production, the Ministry of Aircraft Production and the Ministry of Supply have received instructions not to place any orders for woodwork or for engineering work in London?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that Question on the Order Paper.

Will the Minister look into any particular case of hardship where the factory is eminently suited to the work that is brought to his notice?

Yes, Sir, we are constantly looking into cases of hardship, and see that no excessive hardship is caused.