Temporary Shops, Plymouth

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th September 1948.

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Photo of Mr John Belcher Mr John Belcher , Sowerby 12:00 am, 16th September 1948

I admire the local patriotism of my hon. Friend the Member for the Drake Division (Mr. Medland). I applaud his efforts to achieve something for his city. I do not know that I agree that it is the greatest city in the country. I am a citizen of no mean city myself, a city which also suffered somewhat from the attentions of the enemy during the war.

I am sure that the House will realise that I have very little time to deal with so large a subject as has been raised. First, on the point about the number of Ministries involved in the attempt to get a building licence, of course it would be ideal if we could confine the activities in this direction to one Department or Ministry. However, Ministries have different functions and different knowledge of a problem. It is essential that the Ministry which issues the licence—it is not the Board of Trade but the Ministry of Works—shall have the advice of the Department which knows the circumstances and knows about the trades and industries with which the building licence application is concerned.

On the subject of what my hon. Friend describes as the pettifogging amount involved in an application which was refused, it is true that we are frequently in the position of having to say no to applications which, by themselves, appear to be so trivial and so small in their demands upon building materials and labour that it is really frivolous to reject them, but it is the accumulation of all these small applications which has to be borne in mind. One application for £30,000 worth of work does not appear very much, but when we get hundreds and possibly thousands of similar applications, taken together they represent a very considerable strain on the resources of the country at present.