15 DECEMBER 1944, Page 2

The Repair and Provision of Houses

A good deal of criticism about housing, which Mr. Duncan Sandys had to answer in the House of Commons last week, referred to delays which occurred before Mr. Sandys was Minister of Works, and indeed before the early autumn, when it was discovered that a number of departments were falling over one another in the task of dealing with damaged houses in the recently bombed areas. In fact, under the pressure of public opinion, some 200,000 houses have now received a second-stage "repairs, but there remain soo,000 others all of which will not have been made habitable till the end of March. If the need had been foreseen in June instead of September much of the wretchedness that now prevails in the bombed areas would have been averted. But this is only one of the problems of housing. There is another which next year will be equally urgent, when demobilised men with their families will need to be accom- modated somewhere when they resume civilian life. As for the Portal houses, perhaps it is as well we were not altogether pleased with them, since it transpires that production cannot begin till manufacturing capacity is released at the end of the war in Europe. Happily the Government has turned attention to other types of tem- porary houses, "limited numbers" of which will become available in the early part of next year. In the long run what matters most is the progress of plans for building by the local authorities, but for the next two or three years that will only meet the needs of a small fraction of the families unprovided for.