HC Deb 07 December 1939 vol 355 cc792-3
36. Sir Stanley Reed

asked the Home Secretary whether he has sanctioned the employment of 137 paid air-raid wardens, 70 paid ambulance drivers and 88 paid auxiliary firemen in the city of Oxford, a reception area, involving a monthly expenditure of £3,170 under these heads, the whole of which falls on the Exchequer; will he reconsider the practice of prescribing maximum scales, which are an encouragement to local authorities, who have not to find the money, to work to these maxima irrespective of actual requirements; and whether his attention has been drawn to the practice in the adjoining county of Bucks, with important industrial centres in Slough, High Wycombe and Aylesbury, where the paid air-raid precautions personnel, other than the auxiliary fire services, numbers only 161, with more than 9,000 volunteers?

Sir J. Anderson

The fixing of a maximum establishment for each local authority, including a maximum proportion of paid whole-time volunteers, varying with the assumed degree of vulnerability, the facilities for mutual support and other local factors, has shown itself to be a satisfactory method of allocating available man-power for civil defence services. The establishments for the city of Oxford and the county of Bucks were determined in the light of these considerations, but all establishments are subject to review. I may add that I cannot identify the figures for Bucks quoted by my hon. Friend.

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Would the right hon. Gentleman say which is the "wise middle course," extravagance in Oxford or parsimony in Bucks?

Sir S. Reed

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept the figures of the Chairman of the Buckinghamshire County Council?

56. Sir Irving Albery

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that voluntary unpaid help still lacks encouragement in the air-raid precautions services; and will he arrange that where badges are provided for paid personnel the unpaid volunteers shall also be accorded this mark of appreciation?

Sir J. Anderson

I am not aware of any lack of encouragement of voluntary unpaid help in the air-raid precautions services, to the high value of which I have paid unstinted tribute in this House and elsewhere. No distinction is made between unpaid and paid volunteers in the issue of badges to trained members of these services.