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Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what arrangement he has made to inform himself of the number of local housing authorities which require builders of houses under licence to observe the standards laid down by the National Housebuilders Registration Council, as recommended in the appendix to the circular issued by his Department on 27th November, 1951.

My right hon. Friend considers that this is a matter which should be left in the hands of the local authorities.

If that is so, what possible assurance can the Minister give to the House or to the public that they will be protected from low standards of building, and from the kind of jerry-building which was suffered before the war?

The local authorities are the agents in this matter, and my right hon. Friend is a firm believer in the fact that the "gentleman in Whitehall" does not always know best.

Surely, if the Minister issues a circular giving specific information and advice to local authorities, he should at least find out whether that advice has been accepted or not?

In many cases my right hon. Friend gives guidance to local authorities, but only in rare cases does he make it mandatory; normally it is permissive.