Yes, Sir. My Noble Friend wishes me to express his deep appreciation of the work which the hon. Member for Duddeston (Mr. Simmonds) and his Committee have performed in producing such a useful Report. He has given the recommendations his very careful consideration in the light of the views of the Government Departments and the various Associations concerned with the brick industry and has arrived at the following conclusions.
The proposal to set up a National Brick Council for the Industry is accepted. Its Chairman has already been appointed. The functions of the Council will be to advise the Minister on all questions relating to:
(a) Price Fixing; (b) Quotas; (c) Operation of Care and Maintenance Scheme; (d) Over and under-sales scheme; (e) The best means of effecting correlation of production and demand;
to co-operate with the Ministry and the appropriate research bodies on matters affecting the production of bricks,
to perform such other functions as the Minister may specify from time to time, and to advise on all and any other questions concerning the brick industry, including transport, labour, fuel and other problems affecting output.
The current national output of bricks will be reduced from time to time (not necessarily at regular intervals) in order to balance supply and demand, and to maintain stocks at a proper level. This reduction will be effected, in part, by the closure of works. An Appeal Tribunal on closure decisions will shortly be set up
The "quota plan." recommended by the Committee is agreed in principle, subject to the review of the allocation of trade at least every three months. The administration of the plan will be in the hands of the Ministry of Works and Planning.
The principle of minimum prices is agreed. Separate minimum "at works" prices will be established for each type of common brick in prescribed areas, and also corresponding maximum prices. The areas will correspond to those for which Area Councils may be established in connection with the National Brick Council, with such sub-division as special circumstances may require. Prices will be fixed by Regulation and will be determined by the Ministry of Works and Planning in accordance with Government policy.
The recommendation as to a scheme in the operation of which undertakings will pay in for over-sales, and draw out for under-sales, is approved, and it is proposed to arrange for the issue of the necessary Regulation.