22 SEPTEMBER 1944, Page 2

London's Damaged Houses

It is none too soon that Lord Woolton has decided to put one man as his " chief of staff " in charge of the urgent business of repair- ing bomb-damaged houses—Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, chairman of the War Damage Commission, is to have executive authority for co-ordinating work that has been divided between at least three Ministries. Before long winter will be upon the hard-tried London-rs, and hundreds of thousands of houses are in need of repairs. The air raids of the past and the flying bomb attacks of this year have between them destroyed 107,000 houses, and there are 170,000 others seriously damaged and in need of repair, and 7oo,000 which have received first-aid repairs but need further work to make them reasonably comfortable. If the work is to be done before the coldest weather arrives it is essential that more skilled men should be employed, and more material be made available. It is a serious ground of complaint that much work has been allowed to be done on private houses in many parts of the country, absorb- in6 both labour and material, work that ought to have been post- poned till the needs of the bombed-out have been provided for. Lord Woolton said that, besides 57,000 London workers, 21,000

men had been brought in from outside and 5,00o men of the Ser- vices. This emergency force must be strengthened by the importa- tion of more skilled men who are needed for the key jobs ; and material must be more quickly released for the contractors. The right materials and the right workers in the right places can save the situation. Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve has been given a diffi- cult task. He must be supported by the Ministries, and be enabled to cut through the obstacles of red tape. London has remained in the firing-line when most parts of the country have been comparatively free from fresh damage. Its housing situation is acute. It must have priority.