HC Deb 12 April 1938 vol 334 cc925-7
45. Mr. Day

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that, according to the official statement of the Government, approximately 1,000,000 persons are required for the various voluntary air-raid precaution services, he will consider the creation of a special department in order that the whole efforts of these services in Great Britain can be controlled under one head; and what has been the response to the call for medical and nursing volunteers for these services?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answers which I gave on 7th February and 31st March in reply to questions by my hon. Friend the Member for North Newcastle (Sir N. Grattan-Doyle) and the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson). As regards the second part of the question, I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that while figures are not available for the whole country, recruiting for first-aid work is satisfactory except in a few areas.

Mr. Day

Will the Prime Minister consider making this a national responsibility instead of throwing the charge on the local authorities?

The Prime Minister

That seems to be the same question again in another form.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is not the present rate of progress a proof that much more central organisation and control is urgently required?

65. Mr. Salt

(for Mr. Louis Smith) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the cost which will fall on voluntary hospitals if they take, as they are expected to do, the fullest measures of air-raid precautions to protect their patients and staff; whether he will make inquiries as to the views of hospital managements generally on this important issue; and whether he will then consider the grant to the hospitals of State assistance to ensure the necessary protection?

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

Voluntary hospitals like other institutions are expected to take such measures as are reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of their patients and staff. There will, however, be some hospitals which will be used as casualty clearing stations under a local authority's scheme approved by the Secretary of State; in such cases the local authority could contribute to any special expenditure involved in their use, and such expenditure, if approved, would in proper cases rank for grant under the Act.

Colonel Nathan

When will the hospitals which are to be used as casualty stations be told that that is so; and may I ask with regard to other hospitals whether it is intended that the funds subscribed by the charitable public for the cure of disease and helping the afflicted shall be used for the protection of premises against air raids?

Mr. Lloyd

A good many hospitals will undoubtedly fall under the class which I have described. The Ministry of Health are at present engaged in a survey of the hospital accommodation of the country from the air-raid precautions point of view.

Colonel Nathan

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the great voluntary hospitals of London are at present without any information at all as to what is expected of them in the event of air raids, and that their efforts to obtain information from the Home Office or elsewhere have been fruitless?

Mr. Lloyd

I understand that the survey of London will be completed in a few weeks.