HC Deb 04 May 1939 vol 346 cc2051-6
31. Sir Frank Sanderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will consider providing suitable air-raid warden posts in each sector, with telephone and other necessary equipment for a full complement of wardens in order to facilitate the efficient performance of their duty in time of need, and their training in the mean time?

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir John Anderson)

Local authorities have already been urged to select suitable premises for use as wardens' posts, and to arrange for the instalment of telephones. I understand, however, that in some areas difficulty is experienced in finding this accommodation, and I am therefore issuing a circular authorising the construction of simple types of posts where suitable accommodation in existing buildings cannot be obtained.

32. Mr. Hamilton Kerr

asked the Lord Privy Seal what interests in the textile industry have been consulted in connection with the recommendations contained in the draft of the provisional code for providing air-raid shelters in mill buildings?

Sir J. Anderson

These recommendations were framed by the technical officers of my Department, in the light of their knowledge of the various types of industrial and commercial buildings and of what had been done in a number of them to provide shelter for employés. The provisional code has now been referred to the joint committee which has been set up by the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations, the Federation of British Industries and the Associated British Chambers of Commerce, in order that I may have the advantage of hearing their views before the final form of the code is settled.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman not add trade union representatives to the committee?

Sir J. Anderson

I have been in touch with them, and I propose to consult them separately.

Mr. Smith

Would it not be better to have them all on the one committee?

Sir J. Anderson

The arrangements which are made will have to have the agreement of all concerned.

33. Mr. Kerr

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the fact that the requirements under the Civil Defence Bill will constitute a severe burden on many factories, particularly on textile factories, he proposes to make arrangements to ensure that the necessary materials for constructing air-raid shelters in factories will be standardised and made available at cost price?

Sir J. Anderson

I am fully alive to the importance of the consideration urged by my hon. Friend, and I have already been in consultation with representatives of the industries and trades concerned with a view to ensuring that materials shall be available at reasonable prices. Standardisation is being carried as far as is practicable having regard to the wide variety of types of premises to which the code will apply.

34. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether information respecting air raid precautions has been, or will be, exchanged between His Majesty's Government and the Governments of other Powers; and whether such information could be made available to Members of this House?

Sir J. Anderson

Arrangements for the reciprocal exchange with foreign Governments of publications on air-raid pie-cautions matters have been in force for some time. I doubt whether the information so received is of such general interest as to warrant the presentation of all such publications to Parliament; but if the hon. Member has any particular matter in mind and will communicate with me I shall be glad to consider what steps can be taken to meet his suggestion.

Mr. Sorensen

Is it a fact that the right hon. Gentleman has secured information from the Government of Germany recently regarding their air-raid precautions; and does that mean that we are making arrangements for mutual precautions against mutual destruction?

Sir J. Anderson

I have an Intelligence Department whose business it is to collect: information from all sources, and we are endeavouring to keep up to date with what is being done in foreign countries.

35. Mr. Sandys

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is now in a position to announce particulars of the new alternative form of air-raid shelter which has been evolved by his Department?

Sir J. Anderson

I informed the hon. Member for the Consett Division (Mr. David Adams) on 1st May that I hoped to issue this document within 10 days, and I have no reason to revise that estimate.

36. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that each local authority must make a separate contract with the Post Office in respect of each separate telephone service required by it for air-raid precautions purposes, and pay the Post Office for such services in the same way as private per sons; that such separate costs incurred by the local authorities must then be submitted to the Home Office for purposes of grant, thus involving excessive book keeping on the part of both local authorities and the Home Office; and whether, in order to avoid this, he will arrange for the Post Office to deal direct with the Home Office in this matter, submitting periodically a complete list of its charges in respect of air-raid precautions services required by local authorities?

Sir J. Anderson

I am aware of the procedure described in the first part of the question. It is not, however, necessary for separate details of cost to be submitted to the Department in connection with claims to grant; and I am not satisfied that the suggestion made in the last part of the question would result in any reduction of book-keeping or correspondence, either locally or centrally.

Mr. Stewart

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the local authorities themselves experience great delay and complication through this procedure, and that it is they who suggest, for the sake of economy, that the Post Office and the Home Office should have direct communications?

Sir J. Anderson

I shall be glad to do anything I can to meet the difficulty, but I think my hon. Friend has failed to take account of the fact that the supply of equipment by the Post Office has been wholly decentralised.

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Sir JOHN MELLOR:

37. To ask the Lord Privy Seal if he will give an assurance that the shortage of gas-masks in the Solihull Urban District will be rectified within seven days?

Sir John Mellor

Satisfactory arrangements having been made, I want to withdraw this question, and to express my thanks to the Lord Privy Seal.

38. Mr. Stokes

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the total weight of the steel shelters, including angles, channels, bolts and nuts; and what is the weight of the steel sheeting in the same shelters now being provided for general use in air raid precautions?

Sir J. Anderson

The total weight of the standard unit shelter is approximately 8½ cwt., including approximately 6½ cwt. of steel sheeting.

Mr. Stokes

At what price are the Government purchasing these shelters, and at what price are they being retailed to the general public?

Sir J. Anderson

With regard to the second part of the question, no Government scheme shelters have yet been retailed to the public; and with regard to the first part of the question, I should be glad to have notice.

Mr. Gallacher

How much is the Bank of England making on this?

39. Miss Wilkinson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now decided to pay the £1 for uniform to women air raid precautions drivers who qualify that is paid to the men who pass their tests?

Sir J. Anderson

I am not quite clear what the hon. Lady has in mind. An efficiency bonus of £1 is paid to certain categories of personnel in the Auxiliary Fire Service on the completion of their full course of training; but these are categories for which women are not enrolled. This payment has nothing to do with uniform, which is issued free of charge to all personnel in the Auxiliary Fire Service, both men and women.

Miss Wilkinson

I am afraid my question is not very clearly phrased, but in that case has the right hon. Gentleman considered granting the £1 efficiency bonus to the women drivers, who are working very hard to qualify? It is not so much a question of the £1 but the fact that they feel that they are not sufficiently recognised.

Sir J. Anderson

That is another question.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

Is there any real reason for this exclusion from bonus of women in the Auxiliary Fire Service? It does cause some feeling of inferiority; and has the right hon. Gentleman yet reached any conclusion about the uniforms for the Women's Ambulance Service?

Sir J. Anderson

These are two quite separate questions. The right hon. Gentleman will realise that women in the Auxiliary Fire Services cannot form the basis of comparison with members of other services who receive no pension or with men who receive a bonus in respect of the very arduous course of training they have to undergo.

40. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Lord Privy Seal when there will be available supplies of steel shelters for delivery to the air-raid precautions authorities of the county borough of Derby?

Sir J. Anderson

Supply of shelters to Derby began last week and it is hoped to continue with regular deliveries.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

When does the right hon. Gentleman propose to commence delivery to these people who, by his command, have to purchase these shelters?

Sir J. Anderson

I cannot say without notice.

41. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he hopes to be able to deliver to the air-raid precautions authorities of the county borough of Derby the 12,000 gas-masks which they still require?

Sir J. Anderson

The additional requirements notified by the county borough of Derby have been met by deliveries made on 26th and 27th April and 2nd May.

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