HC Deb 02 November 1939 vol 352 cc2085-6
35. Sir W. Brass

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that considerable divergence in expenditure on air-raid precautions work exists between different local authorities of equal size, and of equal vulnerability, he will consider altering the present system of grants so as to encourage economy in the administration of this service?

Sir J. Anderson

The standard of preparations which my Department has recommended to local authorities is adjusted according to vulnerability and other considerations, and the approved expenditure varies accordingly. The terms of grant towards approved expenditure are fixed by Statute, and I do not think that this would be an opportune moment to propose any reduction in the rate of Government grant.

Sir W. Brass

How does my right hon. Friend propose to encourage economy in the non-vulnerable areas?

Sir J. Anderson

Instructions have been issued to all areas. They are being followed up by the regional staffs.

56. Miss Ward

asked the Home Secretary whether, in order to introduce, where necessary, a policy of economy and efficiency into the air-raid precautions services, he will institute an inquiry, conducted by impartial persons, into the organisation and expenditure of a variety of areas, comparing places of similar character?

Sir J. Anderson

Expenditure incurred by local authorities on air-raid precautions ranks for Government grant only if it has been approved by my Department; and the proposals submitted are scrutinised from the point of view of economy and efficiency. In connection with expenditure on personnel I have recently issued a circular, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy, requesting local authorities to review their organisation and to submit proposals for adjustment to regional commissioners. I think that these methods are better calculated to produce economies than some independent investigation of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend.

Miss Ward

I apologise for not being able to hear my right hon. Friend's opening remarks, but may I ask him whether, when the regional commissioner is in possession of the facts, we may have the evidence published in a White Paper; and will my right hon. Friend consider the appointment of an impartial advisory committee?

Sir J. Anderson

I am sorry, but I, in turn, could not hear the whole of my hon. Friend's question.