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Building Contracts

Volume 499: debated on Tuesday 22 April 1952

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39 and 40.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what steps he has taken to circularise local authorities as to the desirability of permitting the use of substitute material in house-building contracts whenever necessary, in order to avoid delay in construction provided this is not detrimental to the general standard required;

(2) whether he will circularise local authorities with a view to urging upon them the desirability of paying promptly for house-building work undertaken on their behalf.

I have sent to the hon. and gallant Member a copy of a circular which I issued to local authorities on 9th April about these matters.

Arising out of the second of these Questions, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the increased rate of overdraft interest makes the second Question very important to builders and that they should not be left too long without their money?

I agree, and I think my hon. and gallant Friend will find that advice has been tendered on this subject.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take care to circulate that part of his reply which deals with substitute house-building materials to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Works who, 15 minutes ago, was bragging to the House of a 13 per cent. increase in brick production and prophesied more bricks and therefore less use of substitute materials?

Since the right hon. Gentleman has shown, in answer to a previous Question, that he has discovered something which he and his party pretended not to know about before—the shortage of bricks—will he reconsider his decision about importing timber houses from Scandinavia, because there is a very great shortage of houses and a crying need for them?

I can assure the hon. Lady that we want to get all we can, but financial considerations make it impossible for me to suggest at the moment that there will be more timber houses.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman had these same considerations in mind when six months ago he and his colleagues were promising the importation of Scandinavian houses?