asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he is aware of the widespread and unnecessary damage being done to private property by contractors engaged by the Government in removing iron railings; and will he take steps to ensure that reasonable care is taken to avoid unnecessary damage to property, particularly that of the poorer class of property?
Complaints of damage have been received and are being investigated. Letters have been issued to all contractors engaged on the taking of railings reminding them of the necessity to exercise proper care and of their responsibility to make good all damage due to their negligence. Every effort will be made to avoid damage to property.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in this case the local council have made a very strong protest to his Department; that the damage is not negligible but is deliberate and widespread; and, further, that the conditions obtaining in London boroughs have been described as a public scandal by the local Press? Would it not be more advisable to stop the contractors doing this damage, than to spend money and labour on repairs afterwards?
I am aware of the feelings of the council and of many others who have made representations to my Department, but I would urge the co-operation of Members in this matter as the need for this metal is urgent. Of course, it is not so much trouble to knock down railings as it is to repair, and I know that some damage has been done by the contractors, but they are under an obligation to repair. As for some walls, I can only assume that they were not built by trade unionists, because as soon as the railings were taken away they fell down.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the damage is largely in the poorer areas, where railings have been demolished by sledge hammers, whereas acetylene burners have been used on the better property?