asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he has seen the report of the Association of Architects, Surveyors and Technical Assistants on speeding-up building work; whether it is still the decision of the Government that non-British subjects cannot be employed in principle in the trade as technicians; and whether active steps can now be taken to use this reserve of labour?
The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. The employment of aliens under the Crown in civil capacities is controlled by the Emergency Powers (Defence) Regulation 60D. Their use by contractors is not restricted in this way, and I am not aware that any difficulty has arisen in connection with the employment of persons in this category.
Is my hon. Friend aware that there are a number of Polish technicians in this country who have not been allowed to assist us so far, and will he consider them if I send particulars?
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he intends standardising on a nation-wide basis the laws and regulations controlling building operations; and, if so, how long will it be before this information is available in order that work may be started on designs for post-war buildings?
The requirements regarding building operations necessarily vary with differing circumstances of different localities, and my Noble Friend does not think that the imposition of uniform standards throughout the country would be in the public interest. The possibility, however, of securing greater uniformity in technical requirements will be considered.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the same piece of wood within a radius of 10 miles from this House has three different strengths and does he not think that that is perfectly ridiculous?
My hon. Friend will appreciate that this does not concern only the Department to which he has addressed the Question. His suggestion of uniformity goes far beyond the matter which he has indicated in his Supplementary Question. The question of danger of fire, for example, is different in rural and in urban areas, and materials and practices which might be suitable in rural areas are not necessarily suitable in towns.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he will put an end to the existing procedure which compels an owner or his architect, desiring to erect a building, to apply for permission and obtain approval to proceed from, in certain instances, three, four, or even more different authorities?
My Noble Friend has no power to exempt a person desiring to erect a building from the obligation to obtain the approval of every authority having jurisdiction in the matter. He sympathises, however, with the view indicated by my hon. Friend and is considering the possibility of simplifying the present procedure.