HC Deb 11 November 1937 vol 328 cc1831-5
49. Mr. White

asked the Home Secretary whether he can make any statement as to the provision of air-raid shelters and other means of defence for the civilian against aircraft attack?

59. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Home Secretary the Government's policy with regard to the provision of public air-raid shelters?

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

Perhaps the hon. Members will await the statement which my right hon. Friend will make on the Second Reading of the Air Raid Precautions Bill.

51. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Home Secretary whether plans have been completed for evacuating crowded areas during air raids?

61. Dr. Haden Guest

asked the Home Secretary what plans have been made for the evacuation of the civil population from congested areas, such as those in the East End of London near the docks, in the event of threatened air attack?

Mr. Lloyd

The question of evacuation is under careful examination.

Mr. Garro Jones

Having regard to the seriousness of the international situation, is it a fact that the Government have as yet no plan or policy in regard to the evacuation of crowded areas in case of emergency, particularly in view of the fact that the organisation of a plan would take a long time?

Mr. Lloyd

That assumption is not correct.

Mr. Sandys

Have the local authorities been invited to co-operate in the preparation of plans of this kind?

Mr. Lloyd

This matter will certainly come into their schemes.

Mr. Davidson

Will the local authorities be asked to accept full responsibility for expenditure in regard to these plans?

52. Sir Nicholas Grattan-Doyle

asked the Home Secretary what Metropolitan boroughs have organised satisfactory air-raid precaution schemes?

Mr. Lloyd

The position in the different Metropolitan boroughs varies. Most of them have done some preparatory work and a considerable number have made substantial progress.

58. Sir N. Grattan-Doyle

asked the Home Secretary what suggestions have been made to local authorities to stage a black-out of their areas as a test of their systems of air-raid precautions; and what authorities have put their plans to this test?

Mr. Lloyd

No general proposals have so far been made that local authorities should conduct black-outs, though every encouragement is being given to local authorities to hold exercises as and when they are ready. In the present year advantage was taken of the Coast Defence Exercise in July to apply lighting restrictions over a wide area on the South Coast, and exercises at night involving measures of darkening have recently been organised in the area of the Nore Command and at Brighton.

60. Dr. Guest

asked the Home Secretary what numbers of first-aid stations for dealing with air-raid casualties it is proposed to set up in the area of the Metropolitan police district; whether each station will provide for treatment of wounded and gas cases, for cases affected by mustard gas or other vesicants, and for persons whose clothing alone is contaminated; and at what distances apart these stations will be placed.

Mr. Lloyd

It has been recommended by the Home Office that first-aid posts should be so located as to ensure that in no case has any individual to travel a distance exceeding one mile. The number of first-aid posts in the area of the Metropolitan Police district cannot be given until the schemes prepared by the local authorities concerned have been submitted and approved. Each first-aid station will provide for the treatment of wounded and gas cases and for persons whose clothing alone is contaminated.

Sir William Davison

Is the Under-Secretary aware that at the present moment there is an exhibition in the Kensington Town Hall where plans for this service are shown and methods of treatment very well demonstrated?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir, and I propose to visit it to-morrow.

62. Dr. Guest

asked the Home Secretary what numbers of persons will be employed in the area of the Metropolitan Police district in a fully developed air raid precautions scheme, in each of the following capacities: dressers and nurses in firstaid stations, in casualty clearing hospitals and in base hospitals; members of decontamination squads; breakdown and rescue squads; road and engineering repair squads; stretcher-bearer squads; ambulance drivers and personnel; air raid wardens; gas detection officers; and normal and additional fire-fighting personnel?

Mr. Lloyd

As the answer is long and includes a tabular statement, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer: The scales for the provision of personnel recommended in air raid precautions publications for the following services are as shown in the table:

Nature of service. Size of unit. Recommended provision per 100,000 population.
First-aid parties (including stretcherbearers). 4 persons per party. 12–15 parties.
Rescue parties 6-8 persons per party. 3-4 parties.
Decontamination squads. 6 persons per squad. 6 squads.
Air raid wardens, stationed at "posts." 2 wardens per post. 200 posts.

These scales are now under further consideration in the light of practical experience so far gained.

The provision of first-aid posts is recommended on a basis that no casualty would need to travel more than a mile to reach the nearest post. The number of persons required to staff a post is at present under review, but may amount to 50 or more, of whom a proportion only need be trained dressers. Nurses in the ordinary sense would not be employed in first-aid posts.

The numbers of dressers and nurses in hospitals would depend on the number of beds, and no figures are available.

No precise scales of provision of ambulance personnel or gas detection officers have yet been laid down.

It is not contemplated that particular scales should be recommended for breakdown and repair parties for the numerous special services, such as roads, water, gas, electricity and so on. The scale of provision would in the first instance be left to the authority or undertaking controlling the service.

The normal fire fighting personnel in the Metropolitan Police district number approximately 3,500; the number of auxiliary firemen who will be required cannot be estimated pending the submission of the emergency fire brigade schemes by the local fire brigade authorities in the district.

As regards those personnel for whom scales of provision are quoted above, the actual numbers who will be employed will in any case not be known with accuracy until the air raid precaution schemes of the respective local authorities have been submitted and approved.