HC Deb 18 November 1937 vol 329 cc559-61
35. Mr. R. Acland

asked the Home Secretary what are the tests to be applied in order to decide whether or not the houses in any district are or are not suitable for use as shelters from the effects, other than direct hits, of explosive bombs; and will he give examples from the London area where he could consider the houses suitable and unsuitable, respectively?

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

Most reasonably well-built houses contain a room which could be made to give fair protection against blast and splinters from a high explosive bomb falling some distance away; it is the problem of rendering houses gas-proof which in certain localities is more likely to cause difficulty. These question would be among those which the local authorities would have to consider when formulating their schemes for submission to my right hon. Friend; until these schemes have been received and considered, the information which would be necessary to answer the last part of the question will not be available.

36. Mr. C. Wood

asked the Home Secretary the reasons governing the appointment, as air-raid inspector at Leeds for the Yorkshire are, of a welfare officer from Scotland Yard; whether any effort was made to ascertain the existence of well-qualified people in the district to whom this appointment could have been given; what particular qualifications and knowledge of the people in the district the officer appointed had to possess; and whether appointments of this nature are advertised?

Mr. Lloyd

In order to facilitate the work of the Air-Raid Precautions Department in giving advice and assistance to local authorities throughout the country in the organisation of air-raid precautions, it has been decided to appoint a number of regional inspectors in different provincial centres. These posts were not advertised, but were filled by appointments from the existing staff of the Department. The officers in question were selected as being suitable for the work of assisting and advising local authorities generally in the organisation of air-raid precautions.

Mr. Mabane

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the air-raid inspector has taken up his work in Leeds?

Mr. Lloyd

I understand that he has.

37. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Home Secretary the location of Government schools now giving instruction in air-raid precaution work; what is the total accommodation at such schools; and the average length of the instructional courses?

Mr. Lloyd

One civilian anti-gas school is located at Falfield, Gloucestershire. A second anti-gas school will open at Easingwold, near York, on 27th December. The Falfield school accommodates 60 students. On completion the Easingwold school will accommodate a similar number. The course for anti-gas instructors is 10 working days, and the short course for senior officials is five days.

Mr. Bellenger

In view of the statement by the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend as to the urgency of this work, does he consider that the facilities which he has just outlined are adequate to cope with the number of applications?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir. It must be remembered that this system proceeds on a snowball system, and that these instructors are themselves capable of training a large number of others.

38. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Home Secretary the number of applications he is receiving per month from those desirous of receiving instruction in air-raid precaution work?

Mr. Lloyd

The average number of applications received per month from local authorities for vacancies at the civilian anti-gas school is 37. Except in the case of Government servants, persons are not admitted to courses at the civilian anti-gas school unless they are nominated by a local authority or by public first-aid bodies.

Mr. Bellenger

Is there any delay in accepting the applications that are coming forward to local authorities?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, there is congestion.

39. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Home Secretary what control is exercised by his Department over the activities of the county air-raid precautions officers; and whether any inspection is made by officers of his Department of the type and extent of air-raid precautions in the country?

Mr. Lloyd

The Air-Raid Precautions Department, through its inspectors, gives advice and assistance to the organising officers appointed by local authorities; and, as I have just stated in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. C. Wood) it has been decided, in order to facilitate this work and maintain closer contact; to appoint a number of regional inspectors.

Mr. Bellenger

Have all these officers themselves been through an instructional course at the Government school?

Mr. Lloyd

I could not say without notice.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the Air-Raids Department at the Home Office to give assistance?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly. The officers at the Department will be giving general advice and assistance to the local officers.

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