Skip to main content

Cement Supplies

Volume 439: debated on Monday 23 June 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Minister of Works why the shortage of cement has now become acute; and what steps are proposed to increase supplies for building and repair of houses.

Cement production fell sharply because of the fuel shortage, and stocks throughout the country were reduced to an extremely low level. The rate of output now exceeds its former level but it will be some time before stocks are re-established. In the meantime, my regional officers are arranging for as much cement as possible to be supplied for housing.

Is the Minister aware that quite recently there was no cement available at all in some towns of North Wales, and could some be made available for essential repairs pending such time as output becomes sufficiently normal to meet other demands?

Yes, Sir, I am aware that there have been places in the country without any cement at all. We made efforts to supply them and those supplies were sent. At all times my regional officers are prepared to give what assistance they can.

Will the Minister look into the restrictive practices of the cement manufacturers in order to ensure that greater supplies are available?

Yes, Sir. I have been in consultation with the cement industry and I am perfectly satisfied that the amounts that are being produced will be equal to the needs if we are given the chance of another week.

Is the Minister aware that the increased allocation of fuel to the cement manufacturers is equivalent to only 85 per cent. of last year's production, and is it not possible to increase this allocation to a very great extent?

I do not accept the statement that the fuel allocation is equal to only 85 per cent. of last year's production. According to my information the amount of fuel that has now been allocated is sufficient to meet the needs at present.

Would the Minister discount the obvious delight of His Majesty's Opposition at these difficulties?

Did not the Minister say last week that the difficulties with regard to cement were due to the failure of distribution, and how does he reconcile last week's statement with this?

No, Sir, I did not make that statement last week. What I said was that the difficulty arose from shortage of supplies because of the fuel difficulty, which was added to by the difficulty of distribution because, of course, the pipelines were empty of the material. That is the problem that has to be solved now, and with the stocks increasing, the normal channels of supply will be able to meet the demand.

Is the Minister satisfied that contractors in a small way of business are receiving a fair allocation of the available supplies?

I am not saying that in some circumstances there are not difficulties with regard to small contractors but, as I have said, in every case which is brought to our notice, my regional officers will do everything they can to meet the need.

Does not the Minister realise that a most abnormal effort must be made with regard to cement, because it is the thing that holds, the houses together?

Yes, Sir, and my people, in co-operation with the industry, are making that abnormal effort.

Has the Minister checked up on the storage capacity of any factory to discover whether it is choked with cement that has not been distributed?

I think that my officers in the regions concerned would be able to discover that, and I have received no indication which would lead to that conclusion.

Is not the Minister aware that he gave me an assurance across the Floor of this House last week that cement would be available and supplies normal by the beginning of next month, and what does he mean now by saying "some time"?


asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware of the present delay in delivering cement and plaster for completing the housing programme in Huntingdonshire; and whether he will take steps to expedite deliveries.

Yes, Sir. During the present temporary shortage of cement, demands cannot be met promptly, but my regional officers are prepared to give assistance in particularly urgent cases. The shortage of plaster is not acute, but similar assistance will be given wherever necessary.

Is the Minister aware that in the towns of Saltash and Liskeard, in my constituency, the housing programme has been held up for some time for lack of cement?


asked the Minister of Works on what basis supplies of cement available for general housing purposes are apportioned between the various local authority housing schemes in any particular locality.

Supplies are distributed as fairly as possible by the trade, and the assistance of my regional officers is available to any local authority which has difficulty in meeting urgent requirements.


asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that, owing to the priority laid down as to the use of cement, there is none available for houses; and, in view of the fact that the rebuilding of bombed houses at 142 to 152, Crescent Drive, Petts Wood, Kent, particulars of which have been sent him, is being held up for want of cement, if he will take steps to arrange for immediate deliveries to that site.

The shortage of cement follows the fuel difficulties. I am aware of the case mentioned and a small delivery has been made.

Is not the Minister aware that the reason for the shortage of cement everywhere is the same as for the shortage of potatoes—Government control? Does he not recall the saying of Kipling's about the good servant who became a bad master?

Yes, Sir, but when the servant is acting on behalf of a master—namely, the people of this country—who is at the present moment endorsing the action of his servant, I am perfectly satisfied so to act.

Is the Minister aware that I am building four agricultural cottages in South Devon and that the work has been held up for six weeks owing to the shortage? Will he make abnormal efforts to see that it is dealt with?

No, Sir, I was not aware of what the hon. and gallant Member has stated, and I do not see why I should make abnormal efforts in that particular instance. I will make every effort to see that the district generally gets the supplies that it is possible to deliver.