HC Deb 16 November 1939 vol 353 cc809-11
63. Mr. Silkin

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that certain London public schools which have been evacuated have made appeals to parents of scholars to contribute to a pool for the purpose of making up the Government contribution for billeting to £1 per child; that in the case of one such public school the amount contributed by the parents has not been sufficient and the school itself has contributed out of its own funds a sum to make up £1 per week; whether he considers this practice desirable; and, if not, will he take the necessary steps to stop these arrangements?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

I am aware that in some cases parents of school children evacuated under the Government scheme have been asked to supplement the Government billeting allowances. Householders are under an obligation to provide full board in return for the allowances, and parents are not under any obligation to increase the sum. Many parents, however, are anxious to contribute something extra themselves, and I understand that the purpose of the pooling arrangement is to ensure that the children of some parents do not benefit by comparison with others. It is inadvisable that any approach should be made to parents which would lead them to suppose that they are under any obligation to supplement the billeting allowances.

65. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Health the number of unofficial

Local authority. Officers engaged in the assessment of parents' contributions.
London County Council Administrative staff of the Recovery of Expenses Branch.
Birmingham County Borough Council Staff of Director of Education assisted by teachers under their direction.
Bradford County Borough Council Staff of Director of Education.
Hull County Borough Council Staff of Director of Education school officers and teachers.
Leeds County Borough Council Financial staff of Education Department.
Liverpool County Borough Council Staff of School Attendance Department.
Ma.nchester County Borough Council Administrative staff of Education Department.
Newcastle-on-Tyne City Council Administrative staff of Education Department.
Sheffield County Borough Council Education Welfare Officers.

Evacuees in Wales to whom billeting allowances were refused or from whom they were withdrawn after having been paid; whether he intends to reconsider the decision not to make billeting allowances in these cases; and what steps are being taken to assist them to return home?

Mr. Elliot

Information on the first part of the question could not be obtained without calling for a special return from the local authorities in question, which I would not feel justified in asking for owing to the present pressure upon them. In regard to the second part, I am not in a position at present to add anything to the reply given to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) on the 19th October.

67. Colonel Baldwin-Webb

asked the Minister of Health whether, taking the following 20 towns and cities of the country, he will state in each case what classes of the community have been empowered by the respective local authorities to assess the ability of parents to contribute to the cost of billeting their evacuated children: London, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Bristol, Plymouth, Brighton, Norwich, Ipswich, Hull, York, Cambridge, Oxford and Gloucester?

Mr. Elliot

Eleven of the towns and cities referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend are not evacuation areas and their councils are not concerned with the recovery of billeting charges. The information relating to the other nine involves a tabular statement, which I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

68. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Minister of Health whether he can now give an estimate of the weekly expenditure in grants to householders in the reception areas on account of evacuees and of the sums recovered weekly from the parents?

Mr. Elliot

It is estimated that the payment being made to householders in Great Britain for persons billeted under the Government Evacuation Scheme is at present approximately £350,000 per week. Recoveries from parents of unaccompanied school children only commenced on 28th October and figures upon which to base an estimate of the sums likely to be recovered are not yet available.

Sir A. Knox

As the right hon. Gentleman gave an estimate as regards Greater London and Newcastle-on-Tyne in the Debate the other day, could he add any further figures?

Mr. Elliot

I gave the earliest figures which I had in my possession with regard to the number of persons who have replied to the inquiries which were sent out, but it is not possible to base any general estimate with any accuracy on these preliminary figures.

Sir A. Knox

Could the right hon. Gentleman give a rough estimate?

Mr. Elliot

I should not like to make a guess.