HC Deb 24 June 1937 vol 325 cc1359-61
22. Mr. Davidson

asked the Home Secretary whether gas mask production is still proceeding; and the total number produced up to the last available date?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

Gas mask production is still proceeding and 9,000,000 had been produced up to 19th June.

Mr. Davidson

Is the Department satisfied with the rate of progress made in respect of gas mask provision, and can the Under-Secretary say when distribution will take place to the general public?

Mr. Lloyd

I think we are satisfied with the rate of production. We think we have a larger number of gas masks for the civilian population than any other country in the world. In regard to the second question, it is not contemplated that distribution will actually take place until an emergency arises.

Mr. Logan

Will they be out in time for the next General Election?

Mr. Mander

Do I understand from the answer of the hon. Gentleman that it is expected that due warning will be given of enemy air raid?

Mr. Cluse

Can the hon. Gentleman get into communication with Mr. H. G. Wells, to obtain his formula for invisibility?

23. Mr. Davidson

asked the Home Secretary the total number of gas mask distributive centres now established and the Home Office estimate of the number still required?

Mr. Lloyd

Four large regional supply depots have been established with a total capacity of about 11,000,000 gas masks. Nine other similar depots remain to be established. The scheme for distribution from these regional depots is still under consideration, and no centres for distribution purposes have yet been set up. No estimate can at present be given as to the total number of such centres that will be required.

Mr. Davidson

Can the Under-Secretary intimate exactly how his Department intend to reassure the public with respect to the issue of gas masks, when the distributing centres have not yet been allotted?

Mr. Lloyd

The progress that has been made in the production of gas masks and in the preparation of plans for distribution, are in advance, I think, of those made anywhere else.

24. Mr. Davidson

asked the Home Secretary the total number of gas mask storage centres now established; the storage fee allowed per gas mask; and the total cost of storage up to date?

Mr. Lloyd

Four gas mask storage centres are now established. No estimate of the total cost of storage is possible until the scheme for distribution of the gas masks has been determined and the full storage requirements are known—a fee per gas mask can then be worked out. The total cost incurred for storage to date is approximately £23,000.

Mr. Davidson

Is it the intention of the Government to have the storage centres connected with the industries that are producing the gas masks, or are they to be independent?

Mr. Lloyd

No, Sir; the organisation will be in connection with the local authorities.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the Minister satisfied with the progress?

Mr. Kirby

Is any portion of the cost borne by the local authorities?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like notice of that question.

28. Sir Gifford Fox

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the official statement in January last, that the proposed handbook for householders giving simple information on air raid precautions in the home would be ready for issue in the near future, he can state when this book will really be ready for publication; whether any unexpected delay has arisen in connection with the publication; and whether, in view of the importance of the matter, he can expedite its appearance?

Mr. Lloyd

The preparation of this handbook has proceeded as fast as possible and has not been delayed by any extraneous circumstance. My hon. Friend will appreciate that in a matter of such importance the greatest care is necessary as regards both the substance and the form of presentation. Consequently consultations have taken place over a wide field in order that the handbook may embody the best practical advice. The final stage of preparation has now been reached.

Mr. Davidson

Will the people of the country be advised to breathe through the nose and keep their lips well sealed?

Sir G. Fox

Can the Minister give any indication of the date when we may have this report, as the delay is stopping voluntary organisations taking the necessary steps for organising?

Mr. Lloyd

Not at the moment.