Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: My right hon. Friend has just told me that that is because he is outside seeing one of the hon. Member's own party, by arrangement. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the present Minister of Labour will show himself to be worthy of his position, on which so much depends.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: They will always remain until the labour problem can be solved, and it is only by a realisation of that that this Committee can look forward to the future with any hopes at all. I ought to say how grateful I am that the Government have adopted the suggestion made by myself and other Members during the last housing Debate. We then urged that German prisoners of war should be used to build...
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: I do not think that question deserves an answer. It is not a question of the lack of sites. There are sites in every town that I know that can be proceeded with at once. There is no delay being caused by lack of sites. The difficulties will be solved by taking practical steps. I think it is a great misfortune for the people of this country that the land argument is being used as a purely...
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: If the hon. Member suggests that railway companies have been bad landlords, then I say that they have been excellent landlords.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Why did the hon. Member not make that speech three weeks ago?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: I do not want to add too much, to what has been said already, but the fact that the Bill will pass its Third Reading today says a great deal for the good sense of the House of Commons as a whole, as well as of the Ministers and ex-Ministers of his Majesty's Government. The whole sense of the House is that we should do something practical for those areas which have been depressed in past...
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Is not my right hon. Friend persuaded by the number of questions which have been put to him that the only possible thing to do is to make two definite dates and not to extend this thing, or otherwise it will become unworkable?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Can the hon. Gentleman give any instances of the sort of thing he is speaking about? It is a very serious matter, and there should be some proof given. He ought to be able to say that he knows where disorganisation has been caused by ineffective orders from the top.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: indicated assent.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Would the trades unions agree?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: The Minister of Health said at the outset that he would welcome criticism, but I want to make it clear that any criticism that I may make is not directed against himself or the Minister of Works, because I think that the men are not at fault but the machinery. It will be remembered that just before the present war started a tremendous effort had to be made to deal with a very great war...
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but the Government are on the Front Bench in such strength that I hope that where he has failed, the general sympathy shown to this idea in the House will convince the Government that something of that sort is necessary. On the question of temporary houses, I very much agree with what has been said in several quarters of the House—and I believe my hon....
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: I made it clear that this would be for the period of the emergency and that it would correspond with the position of military supplies.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Would the Home Secretary speak with the same voice in this House and in the country?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: What I am recommending is that houses must be ready, somehow, for the troops when they come back. Under the present régime, it does not look in the least likely that they will be ready. Perhaps I might also explain that I made the suggestion purely for the emergency. I did not want it to go on any longer than the emergency.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Will my right hon. Friend allow me to reply to the question he put to me? There is all the difference in the world between a Department consulting another Department and one Department having the right to make up its mind. The difficulty about delay in Departments seems to me to be due, not so much to consultation, as to making up their minds.
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: May I thank my right hon. Friend for having made this concession to meet what, I believe, are the genuine views of a great many Members of this House?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Is there anything in this Bill which will make the emergency powers permanent, after the emergency has come to an end?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Is the hon. Member saying that he approves of the figures that have been given and the results that have been obtained?
Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill: Is the hon. Member really admitting that these deplorable figures that we have heard to-day are dependent on the age of the workmen, because I do not think that that will carry much conviction with the public?