HC Deb 01 November 1938 vol 340 cc14-7
33. Mr. Touche

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can make a statement as regards the progress of recruiting for air-raid precautions?

36. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Home Secretary the results to date of his appeal for further volunteers for air-raid precautionary work?

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

According to the latest information, the total number of air-raid precautions personnel who have enrolled with the local authorities is now over 1000,000. This figure includes some 150,000 who enrolled as the result of the special appeals made at the beginning of October, and some 250,000 who enrolled during the crisis.

Mr. Simmonds

Is a complete investigation being made into this situation, and, in particular, is my hon. Friend considering whether it is not essential that these volunteers should be under some form of contractual obligation, so that they should be in fact available when any emergency arises?

Mr. Lloyd

This is a subject with which my right hon. Friend will deal in the course of the Debate.

Mr. Mabane

Can my hon. Friend say how many of this total fall within the category of air raid wardens?

Mr. Lloyd

Not without notice.

Mr. R. Gibson

Do these figures include Scotland?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Davidson

If the hon. Gentleman is considering the question of contract, will he also consider the question of payment?

35. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Home Secretary what practical steps have been taken to implement the recommendations of the committee upon evacuation presided over by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson)?

Mr. Lloyd

As stated in the memorandum which my right hon. Friend issued with the report, action has already been taken both in the light of the recommendations in the report and of the experience gained during the recent emergency to examine and prepare in detail evacuation schemes. Steps had been taken before the recent emergency to have ready schemes such as could be operated at once if there were no time for lengthy preparation. Information was given in the Press about such a scheme which had been prepared for London. It is, however, fully recognised that with time for preparation much can be done to improve such schemes, and the detailed work necessary for this purpose is in progress.

Mr. Simmonds

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the wide national support which has been given to this plan and that the nation is only too anxious to see other branches of air-raid precautions investigated in a similar manner?

Sir Percy Harris

Will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House why this report was held up before publication for three months?

Mr. Lloyd

My right hon. Friend will deal with that rather complicated subject later.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether he will issue any information to local authorities in the near future, so that they may play their part in making the long and active preparations which will be necessary if this scheme is to be successful?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir, certainly.

41. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Home Secretary whether any steps were taken to enable unemployed persons to receive the various articles recommended in the air-raid precautions handbook as being necessary for the evacuation of children and for protecting homes in the event of aerial attack?

Mr. Lloyd

As regards evacuation, steps were taken to secure that school children were equipped with the articles which they might need, and arrangements were made for meeting the immediate necessities of all persons who would have become refugees. As regards the provision of various forms of protection for persons remaining in specially vulnerable areas, the subject cannot be adequately dealt with in reply to a question, but my right hon. Friend hopes to have an early opportunity of making a full statement.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the Minister take note of the fact that the allowances paid to those who are unemployed are quite inadequate to meet their ordinary needs, and that if there is any special arrangement made for protecting their homes, assistance must be given to them?

43. Mr. Touche

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider letting the public know the regulations which would be enforced in time of war regarding such air-raid precautions as blanketing of windows, provision of sand, and the best means of dealing with incendiary and other bombs, so that persons responsible for large buildings may take the necessary preparatory steps to enable them to comply with such regulations should the emergency arise?

Mr. Lloyd

Every endeavour has been and is being made, both through the medium of the published memoranda and handbooks and otherwise, to give the widest publicity to the various precautionary measures which should be taken by the public against the danger from air raids. It should not, however, be assumed that all these measures would be the subject of mandatory regulations on the outbreak of war. Many of them would remain measures which members of the public and occupiers of premises would be expected to take in their own interests.

Mr. Macquisten

Would it not be as well to mobilise all the unemployed miners and make them build bomb-proof shelters in all the big towns?

Mr. Garro Jones

Does that answer mean that the dealing with incendiary bombs is left exclusively to the initiative of the public after merely receiving publicity information from the Home Office?

Mr. Lloyd

No, Sir, it does not mean that. It is proposed both that the fire brigades should be augmented and also in the case of certain similar brigade plants in some of the streets in the event of air raids, that simple fire extinction apparatus should be made available in certain streets, probably in connection with the air-raid wardens.

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