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Ministry Of Works

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

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House Of Commons Rebuilding


asked the Minister of Works if he has had prepared a complete time and progress schedule for the construction of the new House of Commons.

The rebuilding of the House of Commons involves a number of stages, each covered by a separate contract. Schedules were prepared for the earlier contracts, and that for the present and final contract is now in the last stages of preparation.

Would the Minister be so good as to put a copy of that time and progress schedule in the Library so that other people can see that it is really a practicable proposition?

Will the Minister say how far he has been embarrassed in the reconstruction of the Chamber by lack of steel? Has all the steel he requires for the Chamber been supplied?

A brief look out of the window will show that the necessary steel has been made available.

Building Repairs (Licences)


asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware of the increasing dilapidation of property, which is caused by the present ruling that total repairs authorised by any local authority must be strictly limited to the figure imposed by the present weekly ceiling; and when he anticipates it will be possible to raise this ceiling.

I regret that, with the present shortages of building labour and materials, it is necessary to limit the amount of maintenance and repair work which is licensed. The licensing ceilings are intended as a guide to the amount of building work which can be done with the available labour and materials including work under statutory notices and statutory directions. Restrictions can be relaxed as the pressure of demand for building work eases and labour and materials become more plentiful.


asked the Minister of Works the number of licences and their value that have been granted for building repairs by his Department and, separately, by the local authorities in the London region for each month, January to May inclusive, in each case showing, respectively, the amounts for housing and non-housing repairs and the overall ratio of housing and non-housing licences in terms of value.

I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the value of the licences that have been issued for building repairs by my Department and by the local authorities in the London region. Information regarding the number of licences is not readily available.

Following are the details:

In money value licences for building repairs in the London Region have been granted by the Ministry of Works and by the local authorities as follows:

1947Issued by Ministry 0f Works.Issued by Local Authorities.Ratio.
££Per cent.

1947.Over £100 issued by Ministry of Works.Under £100 issued by Local Authorities.Ratio.
££Per cent.

Note.—These figures relate only to building repairs for which building licences were granted. The approximate 60: 40 ratio between housing and other work relates to the building programme as a whole including new housing and other work to provide additional dwelling accommodation.

New British Embassy, Rome (Competitive Design)


asked the Minister of Works if he will consider instituting an open or limited competition for the design of the new British embassy in Rome on terms which will ensure fair consideration of entries by architects younger and more experimental than those usually commissioned to design public buildings.

I will certainly consider the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend, but I must bear in mind the fact that in the case of an important building of this kind, experience and knowledge of the requirements may be of as great importance as ability to produce an experimental design.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, admirable to some tastes as the work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott may seem, he is not the only living architect?

Corn Exchange, Braintree (Emergency Repairs)


asked the Minister of Works if he is aware of the serious deterioration of the roof of the Corn Exchange, Braintree, during the period of its requisitioning; and if he will facilitate emergency repairs which will make this building safe to use for the weekly market.

I am aware that the roof is in bad condition. Any application for a building licence for emergency repairs will be treated sympathetically so far as the availability of materials permits.

When treating it sympathetically, would my right hon. Friend and his Department bear in mind that the condition of the roof was first brought to their notice some 16 months ago, when immediate repairs might have prevented it from getting a lot worse?

No such application was made to us at that time. If any application is made, I shall give it very careful consideration.

I think my right hon. Friend misheard me. I did not say "application." At that time it was in the charge of the Minister, and he did not do anything about it.

Royal Parks (Litter)


asked the Minister of Works what is the estimated cost of picking up and removing the litter left by the public in the Royal Parks; and what is the estimated cost of obtaining the evidence for more prosecutions, which might end the nuisance.

The average weekly cost of collecting fitter in the Royal Parks amounts to £236. The obtaining of evidence for prosecutions depends to a large extent on the willingness of the public to co-operate and is not a matter of cost.

Would the Minister consider again whether a few prosecutions, with publicity for convictions, would not stop this litter habit, which in the Royal Parks is the worst possible advertisement for English manners and customs?

I am not against considering that but, quite definitely, I regard prosecutions as being the worst type of social education. I think much more is to be done by encouraging people to co-operate in this matter, rather than taking the opportunity of trying to inflict punishment.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that part of the difficulty is due to the fact that there seems to be an insufficient supply of litter baskets, and could he persuade the Metropolitan boroughs to increase the number in order to get people into the right habits?

I am not at all certain that I want to see a great number of litter baskets fixed on to trees in the Royal Parks.

Would my right hon. Friend consider placing in the parks more notices containing some explanatory statement rather than the present ones which are rather of a legal kind?

Roads, St James's Park (Resurfacing)


asked the Minister of Works when Constitution Hill, the Mall and other carriage roads in St. James's Park will be resurfaced.

Resurfacing of the road from The Mall to Storey's Gate and parts of Constitution Hill will begin in five or six weeks' time. The resurfacing of Marlborough Gate is due to begin a month later.

Can the Minister assure us that this will not be just patching but complete resurfacing?

As I understand it, I said "resurfacing" and by that I mean resurfacing and not patching.