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Building Material Stores

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 20 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for War the names of people who asked, and dates when his Department's representatives were asked, for the release of urgently required building materials contained in the dumps in the North-West area; the dates upon which other Government Departments made representations; and the answers given.

Requests from private firms or from individuals for release of building materials are not normally dealt with by my Department. An inquiry was received from the Ministry of Works on 24th April asking whether certain asbestos sheeting and other stores held at Ditton could be made available for a Ministry of Works building programme, which was in danger of being held up. The reply was that, although there were still some surpluses to declare, the majority of the stores were required for Army projects.


Smith asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give a list of the principal building materials held in the dumps at Chester, Woolton, Hale Wood, Ditton and Widnes, and the amounts in each case.

Item.Tonnage to be retained.Tonnage declared or in process of being declared surplus.Total Tonnage.Remarks.
In linked depots at Woolton, Halewood, Ditton and Widnes.
Decauville Track15,00015,000Required for export to U.S.S.R.
Hutting and Hutting components (including asbestos sheets, etc.)3,0003,000These stocks are controlled by the Ministry of Works who are working out distribution Total stocks are below over all requirements of all Departments.
Victaulic piping 6" x 4"5,0005,000
Cast Iron stove pipes1,0001,000
Water tanks4006001,000
At a separate depot in Halewood.
Corrugated galvanized Iron.1,1001,000Demands exceed availability.
Steel section (angles, plate, etc.).1,0001,000Demands exceed availability.
Water piping 3"600600Required for use this year. In process of issue.
Square mesh track250250Airfield track stores. The question of retention is under Consideration.
Road tar200200
In Command Depot at Chester.
General building stores. Mainly 4" stoneware400100500A considerable amount of stores have already been declared surplus and re moved from the Depot. It is in course of being closed down and existing stocks are under review for retention or further disposal.


asked the Secretary of State for War the number of dumps of building materials held throughout the country; the number of dumps of materials in short supply; the amounts of the chief materials at the dump along the main railway line south of Stoke-on-Trent; and why these building materials in short supply have been allowed to deteriorate.

There are in the United Kingdom 73 War Office and command stores depots, almost all of which contain some form of building materials in short supply. I assume that the depot referred to in the third part of the Question is that of Weston and Ingestree; it contains some

As the list contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the list:

The principal building materials held are as follow:

5,500 tons of steel hutting held on behalf of the Ministry of Works, which is required for the Government programme, and some 2,000 tons of assorted and unbalanced hutting components, whose disposal the Ministry of Works is gradually carrying out. Owing to lack of storage space, much of this material necessarily had to be stored in the open, where some deterioration is inevitable, particularly in stores of inferior quality. Lists of unserviceable stores so far produced, however, show the amounts to be negligible

Is it not a fact that these dumps contain materials which are in short supply in the building industry and which are urgently required, and that housing schemes have been held up for the lack of such materials? If that is so, does it not disclose a first-class national scandal, and cannot my hon. Friend make some investigations into the matter in order to have the materials released as soon as possible?

I cannot accept those facts at all. I am informed that we are not holding in the dumps more of these materials than we actually require for our building projects for the current financial year.

I have a list containing the numbers of every material in these dumps, and in view of the fact that camps were built in 1938, 1939 and 1940, in which we housed the whole of our Armed Forces and the American Forces, surely there is no longer any need to retain these dumps, because the men coming into the Forces could be housed in the camps already there? Will my hon. Friend undertake to have an investigation made into this state of affairs in order that this urgently needed material can be released for house building?

No, Sir. It my hon. Friend has information which is at variance with what I have given him, I will, of course, investigate it. On the facts that T have got, I am quite satisfied.

In view of the fact that the Government are making constant appeals to the people of this country to work harder and to have regard to the national interest, will the War Office also have regard to the national interest in this matter?