HC Deb 05 December 1938 vol 342 cc870-2
63. Mr. James Hall

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is prepared to consider the advisability of providing underground bomb-proof shelters in those congested areas near to docks and works which can be regarded as highly dangerous districts in war-time?

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir John Anderson)

The provision of deep bombproof shelters can only be considered as part of a long-term policy. I am at present exploring the possibilities of a solution of the main shelter problem on other lines.

Mr. Hall

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very meagre protection that is provided, even against blast and splinters, in these densely populated districts; and that, for instance, in my own district many people would have to travel quite a mile through a labyrinth of streets in order to find even shelter of that character?

Sir J. Anderson

My reply was not intended for a moment to imply that the provision of shelters would be left out of the question.

Mr. Lansbury

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken into account the main drainage sewer that runs through Bow and Bromley, Stratford, and a great part of West Ham, where people live below it on two sides; and what does he propose to do with those people?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, those considerations have to be taken into account.

Colonel Nathan

In view of the complexity of the problem, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the introduction of early legislation giving the Government all necessary powers to undertake such work as may be decided upon if the policy of bomb-proof shelters is adopted?

Sir J. Anderson

The question of legislation will be considered.

64. Mr. Boulton

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will give an assurance that trenches dug by the local authorities on privately-owned lands, with the permission of the owners, are not to be made permanent; and that the cost of removal of the trenches, if the land is required for building or other purposes, will not fall on the owners of the land?

Sir J. Anderson

The circular which I have issued to local authorities makes it clear that trenches dug on privately-owned land are not to be made permanent except with the consent of the owners; and that, where it is found to be necessary to fill in the trenches, the work is to be done to the satisfaction of the owners and at no expense to them.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that no private land acquired for the purpose of the protection of the people by digging trenches shall be used for private building purposes while the national safety is in peril?

Sir J. Anderson

That, I think, is quite a different question.