asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that many families living in rooms in the City of Birmingham are concerned about an application for a licence for materials being granted to build a 144-bedroom hotel in that city; and, in view of the urgent need for houses, if he will postpone the granting of this licence until the housing situation is more favourable.
This proposal, which is to convert an existing theatre into a hotel, is supported by the Board of Trade and by the local authority. It should not affect the progress of housing work in Birmingham.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that at present, out of 20,000 building workers in the City of Birmingham, only 1,400 or 1,500 are employed on house building? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that the housing application list is now 68,000, and is increasing at the rate of 200 a week; and does he think that hotels should be built before homes for the people? Birmingham has waited long enough.
I am afraid that I do not agree with the figures which my hon. Friend has quoted. They are entirely wrong. Out of some 15,000 employed workers, nearly 7,000 are at present employed on housing. Moreover, as I have said, this project is supported by the local authority, although the licence has not yet been issued.
Is there not already plenty of labour in Birmingham available for this projected hotel, apart from house building requirements, and has the right hon. Gentleman seen the recent statement of the Deputy-Mayor of Birmingham in this regard?
I am convinced that this work can be done without calling on any of the labour required for housing purposes.
I am sorry that I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend's figures. Being a member of the Birmingham City Council, I know that his figures are wrong.
The hon. Member is not asking a question.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of a statement which was made from the rostrum of the City Council to the effect that there are only 1,500 employed on house building?
I am sorry, but I obtained my figures just before coming here from the official source from which such figures are obtained.