HC Deb 26 April 1938 vol 335 cc16-8
33. Mr. T. Smith

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that a committee has been considering for two years the question of the appropriate uniform for auxiliary fire services and have not yet reported; whether it is proposed that a committee should inquire into and decide upon the appropriate arm-band for air-raid wardens; whether he is aware that in at least one city the authority have refused to wait any longer and have designed their own uniform; and whether steps will be taken to end these delays which are holding back the air-raids precautions arrangements of local authorities?

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

The items of uniform to be provided were specified in the Home Office Memorandum issued in February, 1937. One or two local authorities intimated, shortly afterwards, that uniforms were being provided for their auxiliary firemen. Standard specifications for auxiliary fire service uniforms have been under consideration and are about to be issued for the guidance of all local authorities. The design for a standard arm-band for air-raid wardens is already being considered and will be notified to local authorities as soon as possible.

34. Colonel Nathan

asked the Home Secretary what directions have been given, or are contemplated, for the information of the general and special hospitals in London, as to the measures they should take for dealing with patients and as to the functions they are desired to fulfil in the event of air raids?

Mr. Lloyd

Instruction in the methods of dealing with gas casualties is being given to the medical and nursing staffs of London hospitals as part of the Home Office scheme of medical anti-gas instructions. A handbook on the structural protection that can be arranged in hospitals for the additional safety of staff and patients will shortly be issued. As regards the last part of this question this must await the completion of the survey which is being undertaken by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health.

Colonel Nathan

Is it seriously suggested that it is necessary that a survey should be completed of the hospital accommodation of the whole country before the London hospitals can be given any guidance or information?

Mr. Lloyd

No; I was referring to the survey actually taking place in London which, I have informed the House, is shortly to be completed.

Colonel Nathan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have in my hand a letter from the Air-Raid Precautions Department of the Home Office stating that, pending the completion of the survey of hospital accommodation throughout the country, it is regretted that it is not possible definitely to allocate to individual hospitals the part they may be called upon to play; and that that letter is addressed to a hospital adjacent to this House? Is this in accord with the policy of the Home Office?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not know the date of that letter—

Colonel Nathan

19th April.

Mr. Lloyd

We must have a little further information, but I do not think it will be necessary for the survey to be completed all over the country before dealing with the London hospitals.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Has my hon. Friend also given directions to the medical schools so that the doctors coming from those schools will be equipped to do their work?

35. Mr. Gardner

asked the Home' Secretary whether, in view of the fact that, in the event of air-bombing attacks on towns, telephone wires above and below ground would be vulnerable to fracture along their whole length, he has considered requiring the provision of means of communication from call points to life defence units and fire brigade stations by the use of short range wireless telegraphy worked from storage batteries?

Mr. Lloyd

The possibility of using wireless during air raids as a stand-by for normal means of communication is receiving full consideration. For a variety of technical reasons, however, it is doubtful whether its general use for such purposes, including that now suggested, would be practicable.

Mr. Simmonds

Are actual tests being carried out, or is it only a matter of consideration?

Mr. Lloyd

No, Sir; the Home Office have been carrying out a number of tests in a considerable number of towns with the police wireless systems.