Ministry of Works and Buildings.

Part of Orders of the Day — CONSOLIDATED FUND (No. 2) BILL. – in the House of Commons on 19th March 1941.

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Photo of Mr Alfred Bossom Mr Alfred Bossom , Maidstone

I thank the Minister very much for all he has said. It is cheering to know that the matter has already been considered. But we must build this work so that it can be wiped away at the finish of the war. We shall not want to hamper ourselves later and we can avoid this if we make it of strictly temporary construction. The Minister mentioned 30,000; I referred only to one particular town. He knows as well as I do that the situation is causing difficulty there at the present time. We do not want, if this trouble suddenly comes, to have men drawn away at the last moment from aerodromes or essentially needed factories in order to do this housing work, which should be and can be planned ahead. What the Minister said was gratifying and I thank him for interrupting me. Otherwise, because as he said I am afraid I might not have had an answer and it might have gone out that the Minister had not looked after the matter. The Ministry have a terribly difficult job, but they are trying to do it in a very fine way.

In my opinion the workers at a lot of these places are very poorly looked after. They are trying to do a good job—there are one or two places where they are bad and where poor work is being done—but on the whole the great mass of the work is being well and promptly handled. It must be rather discouraging to them, when visitors come along in big cars, to know that the visitors have come from comfortable beds and homes and will go back to them later, while the building workers have to carry on under most uncomfortable housing conditions. I hope that the Ministry of Works and Buildings will see to it that the workers' accommodation is as good as possible in the circumstances, possibly by letting them occupy the first of the temporary buildings which they construct. It would allow them to live at least in a comparatively decent manner.

I hope that the Ministry will concentrate upon speedy construction in this part of its work and not concentrate so much upon appearance. We do not need to worry about the aesthetic aspect of temporary buildings, which are only for a very short life. We have to win the war. I hope the buildings will be warm and comfortable, so to speak, satisfactory for lounging and dining, but we must re- member that the one issue before us at the present time is winning the war. Nothing counts if we do not do that. I again thank my hon. Friend for interrupting me in order to show that this work is under consideration. The men who are doing the work are fine fellows. They are working hard, and I want to see them with the best opportunities for doing the best they can for the country, in this serious national crisis.