HC Deb 08 December 1938 vol 342 cc1356-61
56. Mr. David Adams

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is his intention to secure the provision of deep bomb-proof shelters for those citizens compelled to remain in centres of population during the progress of air raids?

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir John Anderson)

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 5th December to a similar question by the hon. Member for the Whitechapel Division of Stepney (Mr. J. Hall).

Mr. Adams

Could the right hon. Gentleman supply me with a copy of that reply?

Sir J. Anderson


Mr. Shinwell

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that these shelters will be available before the next crisis?

Sir J. Anderson

The question relates to deep bomb-proof shelters. I can give no undertaking that such shelters will be available in large numbers in the very near future.

57. Mr. David Adams

asked the Lord Privy Seal what experiments the Government have made as to the effects of high-explosive bombs of varying calibre; and whether it is his intention to place at the disposal of the public this information and information as to the protection likely to be afforded by shelters of various kinds, the respective depths required, etc.?

Sir J. Anderson

Extensive tests have been and are being carried out, under conditions approximating as closely as possible to those of actual air attack. It is intended to publish a handbook which will place at the disposal of the public the conclusions to which these tests point.

Mr. Thorne

Is there any mention in the book of the fact that the safest shelter is in one's own house?

Sir J. Anderson

The book in question is going to deal with the effect of high-explosive bombs.

Mr. Adams

When is it expected that the book will be issued?

Sir J. Anderson

At a very early date.

Mr. Thurtle

Is it likely to be very reassuring to the public?

Mr. Day

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the tests that have been made?

60. Mr. Cocks

asked the Lord Privy Seal on what grounds the application of Mr. W. L. Ellis, of The Connery, Huck-nail, Notts, to be enrolled as an air warden has been rejected; and whether he will take steps to see that this matter is rectified?

Sir J. Anderson

Recruitment to the air raid wardens service in any area is a matter for the local authority concerned; and if a local authority decide that any individual applicant has not the requisite qualifications for work as an air raid warden, I have no authority to question the exercise of their discretion.

Mr. Cocks

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the gentleman in question is a close personal friend of mine, and therefore a man of high character; and do a man's political views constitute an objection to his being appointed as an air warden?

Sir J. Anderson

That is a different question altogether.

Mr Cocks

This is a very important question. It concerns a constituent of mine whose character has been impugned.

61. Mr. D. M. Adams

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that considerable quantities of petroleum, carbide and celluloid are lying in store in the thickly populated areas; and what regulations under air-raid precautions are the Government going to make to have these goods stored in places of safety with adequate protection in case of emergency?

Sir J. Anderson

Carbide is, I understand, stored in hermetically sealed iron drums in buildings licensed by the local authority. Celluloid stores are subject to the safety provisions of the Celluloid and Cinematograph Film Act, 1922, and in London special arrangements have been made by the cinematograph trade to remove large stocks of film in the event of a war emergency. As regards petroleum, much attention has been given to the problem, and every possible step is being taken to mitigate the dangers.

Mr. Garro Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the increased capacity for storage at the mouth of the Thames at Thameshaven greatly increases the danger of fire in the Thames Estuary; and can he give an undertaking that there will be no further increase of storage capacity in that dangerous area?

Sir J. Anderson

I should require notice of that question.

63. Mr. Kirby

asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he has taken, Departmentally or in conjunction with the local authorities, property owners, and associations of employers, to produce schemes for the protection of office workers, shop assistants, and others employed in large stores and office buildings in towns liable to attack from the air in time of war, such as London and Liverpool?

Sir J. Anderson

The Home Office Handbook No. 6, entitled "Protection of Factories and Business Premises," deals in detail with the various aspects of A.R.P.; and, in order to assist smaller undertakings, a shorter pamphlet emphasising the essential parts of A.R.P. schemes is in course of preparation. The Handbook emphasises the need for cooperation between local authorities and industrial undertakings, and it is my intention to encourage the development of local A.R.P. committees representative of industry and commerce, such as already exist in many parts of the country.

Mr. Kirby

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to send me a copy of the Handbook; and has he noticed that the question of air-raid precautions has been coupled with that of unemployment? Will he be good enough to consult with his colleague, the Minister of Labour, in order to come to some satisfactory arrangement covering the two aspects of the problem?

Sir J. Anderson

I shall certainly send the hon. Member a copy of the Hand- book. The second part of the question relates to a point which arises on another question.

64. Mr. Kirby

asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps are being taken in the city of Liverpool to provide protection in the residential areas, particularly for women and children, in times of national emergency; and will he co-operate with the city council in the immediate construction of trenches and dug-outs of a semi-permanent character in open spaces adjacent to residential areas, thus providing protection in case of emergency and work for some of the many thousands of Liverpool men at present unemployed?

Sir J. Anderson

The responsibility in this matter rests with the city council, and I shall be ready to consider any proposals which may be submitted to me by them.

Mr. Sandys

In view of the uncertainty that exists in regard to the Government's policy about shelters, when will my right hon. Friend be able to announce something definite about this?

Sir J. Anderson

As I have indicated, I am pursuing investigations into one particular aspect of that question, and I am anxious not to be led into making a statement of general policy until that investigation is completed.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that hundreds of thousands of skilled men are available at any time he likes?

Sir J. Anderson

I know, but that applies mainly to trenches.

65. Mr. Kirby

asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he is taking, in conjunction with the Liverpool City Council, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, railway companies, and employers' associations, to provide adequate protection during air-raids of the large number of workers in Liverpool employed on the docks, in warehouses, and in the many large industrial concerns in the city, most of whom would be doing work of prime national importance during the period of such an emergency?

Sir J. Anderson

In general, it is expected that employers will take steps for the protection of their workpeople, but the special position of the essential public utilities is under discussion with the bodies concerned.

Mr. Kirby

In view of the international situation and the state of unemployment in Liverpool, will the right hon. Gentleman look further into this matter of adequate air-raid precautions in the dockside area of Liverpool, taking into account the fact that there are a large number of stone and concrete buildings there?

Sir J. Anderson

I am constantly looking into this question, but the primary responsibility rests with the local authorities.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the West Riding County Council have sent to the local authorities stating that they must return all the implements to the county council, and then, if they want them back, the county council will send them to them again?

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir; I was not aware of that.

Mr. Griffiths

If you make inquiries, you will find out.