HC Deb 25 November 1937 vol 329 cc1387-90
28. Dr. Haden Guest

asked the Home Secretary whether he will publish the report of the experiments conducted by the Government's scientific advisers to test the efficacy of the measures recommended by the Air-Raid Precautions Department for the making of householders refuge rooms, and to test the resisting powers of the civilian, civilian duty, and general service respirators to the various types of poison gases?

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

Yes, Sir. I will send the hon. Member a copy of the report of the experiments to which I referred in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Air-Raid Precautions Bill, and will arrange for a number of copies to be placed in the Library. Copies will also be issued to the Press.

37. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Home Secretary how many of the county air-raids precautions officers have received training at the Government anti-gas school?

Mr. Lloyd

Three air-raid precautions officers of counties are in possession of instructors' certificates obtained at the civilian anti-gas school, and another 14 have attended one of the short courses at the school which are specially arranged for senior officials. These short courses have also been attended by 32 county chief constables and by 43 other senior officials of county councils who, while not being specially appointed as air-raid precautions officers, will be responsible for controlling parts of the county air-raid precautions services.

Mr. Bellenger

Is it the case that a considerable number of county air-raid precautions officers have not had this instructional course; and does the hon. Gentleman not think it advisable that all those officers should have a course of this nature?

Mr. Lloyd

There are a number who have done so, but it would be misleading to give the impression that county air-raid precautions officers themselves ought necessarily to take these courses of instruction. Although it may be desirable that they should have one of the short courses, it is not necessary that they should have the full instructional course.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the hon. Gentleman bring this matter to the attention of county authorities before they appoint air-raid precautions officers?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like notice of that question.

38. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Home Secretary whether there is any considerable variation in the size of gas masks to be provided for the civilian population; and what plans are contemplated for fitting individuals and training them in the use of these appliances?

Mr. Lloyd

The respirator which will be provided for the civilian population is manufactured in three sizes with the object of meeting varying requirements. Supplies are issued to all local authorities who apply and who have qualified instructors. The details of the arrangements for fitting and training individual members of the public will be made by the local authorities.

Mr. Bellenger

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether a course of fitting and some training will be gone through by the civilian population before the emergency arises; and is he aware that, in the Army, a considerable period of training is necessary before soldiers are considered fit to use gas masks?

Mr. Lloyd

It is contemplated that the respirators should be fitted in time of peace.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Are arrangements being made to supply public and private schools with a certain number of gas masks in order that the pupils may be instructed how to fit them and use them and become familiarised with them?

Mr. Lloyd

These matters will naturally fall within the scope of the scheme.

39. Mr. Day

asked the Home Secretary whether he will give particulars of any arrangements that have been made by local authorities for the training of the necessary personnel for the protection of the civil population against gas attacks in the near future?

Mr. Lloyd

Training of the necessary personnel for the protection of the civilian population against gas is arranged by the local authorities through the medium of instructors trained at the Civilian Anti-Gas School and with the aid of equipment supplied on loan by the Home Office. As I stated in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Air-Raid Precautions Bill, 100,000 men in the employ of local authorities have been trained in anti-gas and general air-raid precautions duties up to the present, and the whole of the police have also been trained. The services of instructors trained by the St. John Ambulance Brigade and British Red Cross Society are also available.

Mr. Day

Is the Minister satisfied that this training is now being completed throughout the country?

Mr. Lloyd

It has certainly not been completed. It has a long way to go yet.

75. Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he will take steps to secure that private persons putting up gas-proof or bomb-proof shelters, which will involve considerable capital expenditure, will not have their assessment increased by the local authority or their Schedule A assessment increased?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

Assessment for the purposes both of rating and of Income Tax Schedule A is, under the statutory provisions relating thereto, a matter entrusted to the appropriate assessing authorities—in the case of rates the local assessment committee, in the case of Income Tax the local bodies of general Commissioners of Income Tax subject to the prescribed right of appeal in either case—and my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that no Minister is empowered to interfere with their discretion in the matter.