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Smith Houses

Volume 78: debated on Friday 10 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Smith houses he has (a) visited himself personally and (b) instructed his officials to visit in (i) Birmingham and (ii) any other areas; and whether he will publish the evidence available to him about the value and condition of Smith houses.

The condition of Smith houses is discussed in the Building Research Establishment report "The Structural condition of Smith system houses", published in December 1983. As part of its investigation, the BRE inspected in detail six Smith houses (three in Birmingham and three in other areas) and examined a further 25 in those areas. I have visited seven Smith houses in the Birmingham area. In addition to BRE inspectors my officials have made other such visits in Birmingham.As indicated in my reply of 8 May, at column

417, we have no evidence of any substantial reduction in value generally. But there has been a substantial reduction in the

value of those Smith houses in Birmingham which are defective through use of shale fill. It would not be appropriate to publish the detailed valuations.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he has had with (a) local authority officials and (b) other interested parties about Smith houses in the last 12 months; and whether he will make a statement.

Over the last year my Department has obtained information on Smith houses from local authorities and other interested parties. I have kept closely informed those hon. Members who have previously raised this subject and I met local Members of Parliament, City officials and other interested parties during my visit to Birmingham on 25 May last year. My officials have had separate discussions with City officials.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when his Department first became aware of defects in Smith houses.

The condition of Smith houses was first raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) and formed the subject of replies given to him on 8 November 1982 at column 80.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all the areas in which Smith houses have been built; and (a) which of these areas have been visited and inspected by officials of his Department and (b) in which of these areas Smith houses were found to be defective.

Smith houses have been reported in the following local authority areas in England and Wales:

  • Amber Valley
  • Ashfield
  • Erewash
  • Leicester
  • North East Derbyshire
  • Birmingham
  • Dudley
  • Nuneaton
  • Sandwell
  • Walsall
  • Wolverhampton
  • Cardiff
The Building Research Establishment inspected houses in Birmingham, Cardiff, Erewash and Amber Valley during its investigation of Smith houses. I refer the hon. Lady to my reply to her of 8 May at column

417, on the condition of this type of house in Birmingham and generally.