26. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Minister of Health what reduction in the number of houses to be permitted for other than agricultural workers and miners is anticipated to result from the reduction by £10,000,000 in the value of timber to be imported in the next 12 months.
Mr. De la Bère
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there must be other sources of supplies of timber available, and cannot he tell us whether he is doing something to enable these sources to be made available for housing purposes?
§ Mr. Bevan
Every effort is being made by my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade to get softwood for housing and hardwood for furniture from various parts of the world, and he has had a certain amount of success. In the meantime, there need be no apprehension about our own housing programme. At any rate, the contracts will not be interfered with, and there is sufficient timber coming forward for houses already under construction.
§ Sir Waldron Smithers
Will the right hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade why he refuses to grant a licence for the import of 73,000 scaffold boards from Luxemburg?
§ Mr. Bevan
I am not yet in a position to apportion it, because we do not know how far it will fall on the rest of the building programme. But the House will recall that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke about the building programme being reduced. It does not necessarily follow that any substantial effect will fall upon domestic housing.
§ Major Guy Lloyd
Does the right hon. Gentleman want the local authorities to understand from his statement that, when they are frustrated in building houses, his Ministry will never again say that it is due to a shortage of timber?
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. and gallant Gentleman must not interpret what I have said beyond the frontier of what I have said. Indeed, the local authorities are not being frustrated; they are being released to build houses, and they are extremely grateful because of the fact that this is the first Government to give them a chance to build houses.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does the figure which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned apply also to Scotland?
§ Mr. J. H. Hare
The right hon. Gentleman says that all existing programmes will not be affected by the £10,000,000 cut, but can he give some indication as to when future programmes are likely to start?