asked the Minister of Labour what steps he intends taking to release men formerly employed in the building industry and now serving in His Majesty's Forces for work urgently required for housing people now living in overcrowded houses, and houses condemned as unfit for human habitation.
There are no arrangements for the early release of men in the Forces to take up civilian employment and an exception cannot be made in the case of men formerly employed in the building industry.
Can my right hon. Friend tell us if it is his policy to give the Armed Forces priority over housing?
It means that I am carrying out the Act of Parliament.
Is the Minister aware that when an effort was made to get a bigger allocation of houses for Fife, into which many miners are coming from other areas, we were told that it could not be done because of the lack of labour? Will the Minister make a special effort to get the War Office to release men for building work?
Does not my right hon. Friend think that the housing situation is so serious that the need for men for the building of houses is more important than the need for these men to be in the Army?
Parliament decided what classifications of workers were to be excluded and I am applying that decision.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that priority industries, especially in Scotland, are languishing for lack of the necessary housing, and that this is the bottleneck which is holding up everything? In view of that fact could he not reconsider the whole matter?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the questions which have been asked by Members on his own side of the House do not quite tally with what the Minister of Health has recently been telling us about housing?
asked the Minister of Labour how many building workers are registered as unemployed at the employment exchanges of St. Albans, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City; and how many were registered at comparable dates in 1938 and 1937.
At St. Albans, four; at Hatfield, none; at Welwyn Garden City, four. In March, 1938, the numbers were 133 at St. Albans and 79 at Welwyn Garden City; and in March, 1937, 117 at St. Albans and 52 at Welwyn Garden City. There are no separate figures for those two years for Hatfield which was then included in the other two.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that Conservative propaganda is suggesting that, owing to Government policy, there are idle builders in this district? Do not these figures show that to be completely false?
There is an old saying that figures cannot lie. I will not use the second half of that saying.