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.
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. 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?
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. 1360 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.
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?
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.
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?
§ 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; 1361 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.
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?