HC Deb 16 June 1938 vol 337 cc382-4
36. Mr. Chorlton

asked the Home Secretary whether any recommendations have been issued to the various water authorities of the country with regard to their water supply, with particular reference to air attack, for the purpose of making it available by alternate ways of service; and whether plans are being got out for the country showing the mains of the various water authorities and where they could be interlocked or connected to provide duplicate supplies in case of failure of the original supply in case of fire?

Mr. Lloyd

In a memorandum dealing with air-raid precautions issued to all water undertakings special emphasis was laid upon the desirability of preparing plans for alternative methods of maintaining normal supplies, such as connection to the mains of other authorities or the utilization of other sources not ordinarily available. Many such authorities have been specially visited and advice given as to the particular problems with which they are confronted. Measures for supplementing existing supplies for firefighting purposes also form an important part of the emergency fire precaution schemes which are being submitted by local authorities, who are asked to furnish full particulars, including maps showing the existing methods of supply and all supplementary water supplies which can be made available for this purpose.

Mr. Chorlton

Does not the hon. Member agree that this question of water supply is so very important in connection with fire precautions, that a special notice ought to be sent round, and that unless special provisions are explicitly made, the necessities of the case will not be met?

Mr. Lloyd

Water supply does, in fact, form one of the most important items among the suggestions in regard to firefighting schemes.

Mr. Simmonds

Is there any co-ordinating committee working among the local authorities to see that the best results are achieved?

Mr. Lloyd

The Home Office had a great deal of experience during the last War in co-ordinating the fire services of various local authorities. They have a great deal of experience to go upon, and are proceeding upon the same principles, and there are also powers under the Act.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is it not a fact that there is no legal obligation upon any water authorities to provide water for fire-extinguishing purposes?

39. Mr. W. Joseph Stewart

asked the Home Secretary whether any measures for dealing with burning refuse-heaps in the county of Durham have been submitted for his approval in connection with air-raid precautions schemes, and whether, as these heaps will serve to guide enemy aircraft and so bring loss of life and damage to property in mining areas, he will assure the local authorities concerned that schemes for dealing with such burning heaps will rank for air-raid precaution grant?

Mr. Lloyd

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The problem of dealing with these burning heaps is under active investigation, and my right hon. Friend will be glad to consider any proposal from a local authority which would help to overcome this difficulty. The question of grant will be considered in the light of any specific proposal for dealing with this matter.

Mr. Stewart

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been blackouts in various parts of the country in connection with air-raid precautions, that in Durham County and in other areas these burning pit-heaps would act as beacons to enemy machines, that it would be impossible to get a black-out and that in the event of an air raid I am afraid that our people would be blown out; and can he say what will be done by his Department to meet this most serious situation?

Mr. Lloyd

The chief alkali inspector of the Ministry of Health is closely in touch with this problem in various parts of the country. It is intended that the heaps should be surveyed from the air to test in actual practice their visibility from the air. The alkali inspector will, in the first instance, consider the most visible ones, with a view to the possibility of dealing with them, from the point of view of visibility. I would remind the hon. Member that I have gone a considerable way in my original answer.

.Mr. Lawson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that during the last War, on one occasion at least, these heaps did guide Zeppelins, and that the company did take steps when their property was concerned?

Mr. W. Joseph Stewart

Surely the hon. Gentleman knows full well that these burning heaps are a menace to the general safety of our people in many industrial areas, and surely he ought to be able to tell us whether the Department intend to do anything to meet the situation?

Mr. Lloyd

It is a matter for the local authorities to deal with in their schemes, in the first instance. I have said that my right hon. Friend will be glad to consider any proposal from the local authority. Questions of grant for dealing with the matter will arise on a specific proposal.

Mr. Shinwell

If representations are made by local authorities, do the Government intend to take any action?

Mr. Lloyd

It is not a question of making representations, because the matter can be dealt with under the normal schemes which have to be prepared under the Act.

Mr. T. Smith

Is the survey likely to take place in the near future?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir.

Mr. George Griffiths

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that there are 82 burning pit-heaps in Yorkshire now?