HC Deb 01 December 1938 vol 342 cc580-3
38. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is yet in a position to state the policy of the Government regarding the provision of permanent underground shelters for London and other large cities?

49. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can make any statement upon the Government's programme of public air-raid shelter construction?

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir John Anderson)

I am not yet in a position to add anything to the reply which I gave to a question by the hon. Member for the Everton Division of Liverpool (Mr. Kirby) on 21st November.

Mr. Stewart

Can my right hon. Friend indicate, roughly, when he will be in a position to make a statement?

Sir J. Anderson

I can assure my hon. Friend that I have not been idle in the matter, but I would rather not be committed about a date at present.

Mr. Simmonds

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that, at the best, the construction of shelters will take a very long time, and that therefore the decision is all the more urgent?

Sir J. Anderson

I fully realise that fact.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are hundreds of thousands of miners idle who would be very pleased to do this work?

Mr. Bossom

Will my right hon. Friend, when he does issue these instructions, kindly make a time-table and say when the work is to be completed?

Sir J. Anderson

I will bear that suggestion in mind.

41. Mr. Parker

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the provisional arrangements made for the last crisis for each authority in the Metropolitan Police area to operate its own air-raid precautions scheme, he will permit all these authorities to prepare their own schemes when they are willing to do so?

Sir J. Anderson

For the protection of this area a policy of co-ordinated measures is obviously essential, and in the consideration of applications by boroughs or urban districts to be separate scheme-making authorities, attention must be paid to this most important point.

43. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has considered, or will consider, making arrangements to secure that police boxes and telephone kiosks should be suitably strengthened arid re-designed for use as air-raid wardens' posts?

Sir J. Anderson

Careful consideration has been given to this proposal, but for a variety of reasons neither police boxes nor post office kiosks, even if strengthened, would usually be suitable as air-raid wardens' posts.

50. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the dearth of materials and equipment for the construction of air-raid shelters, he will accumulate stocks which could be sold at a moderate profit in the event of an emergency?

Sir J. Anderson

I am at present reviewing the whole problem of air-raid shelters, and I will bear in mind my hon. Friend's valuable suggestion.

Mr. Simmonds

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the vast increase in the price of this material which occurred during the last emergency will certainly recur unless the Government are prepared to take immediate action?

Sir J. Anderson

That is being kept in view.

Mr. Thorne

Would it not be possible to fix the price of sand and cement, and things of that kind?

Sir J. Anderson

It might not be a question merely of sand and cement.

Sir Gifford Fox

Is it not the case that the more shelters are built in London, the fewer people will have to be evacuated?

51. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is the policy of the Government that vehicles used for air-raid precautions work shall be secondhand?

Sir J. Anderson

In general it is unnecessary that vehicles should be purchased in advance for use in an emergency on air-raid precautions work. Arrangements will be made by which vehicles normally used for other purposes will be made available.

Mr. Simmonds

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Home Office has been insisting that the vehicles purchased should be second-hand, and that these vehicles have proved to be highly uneconomic compared with new vehicles; and can he give an assurance to the House that, in future, his Department will authorise the purchase of new vehicles when the local authorities require them?

Mr. H. G. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great many Members of this House drive second-hand vehicles with great satisfaction?

52. Mr. A. Jenkins

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in cases where officers of the police forces are devoting the whole and/or part of their time to air-raid precautions work, grants will be paid on the salaries and other expenditure arising in connection with that work, under the provisions of the Air-Raid Precautions Act; and, if so, have the local authorities been advised to arrange their accounts accordingly?

Sir J. Anderson

A memorandum explaining the effect of the Air-Raid Precautions (Approval and Expenditure) Regulations was issued to local authorities in July last. As was explained in that memorandum, where police officers are seconded for A.R.P. duties, either whole-time or part-time, and the establishment of the force is brought up to strength by means of fresh appointments the whole or the appropriate part of the seconded officer's remuneration ranks for A.R.P. grant.