HC Deb 19 October 1939 vol 352 cc1014-20
29. Mr. Ede

asked the Minister of Health what instructions have been issued with regard to the medical inspection immediately prior to their evacuation of the second group of the priority classes to be evacuated?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

The supplementary scheme of evacuation is confined to unaccompanied children who have been registered. I have given instructions that the evacuating authorities should carry out medical inspection and, where necessary, the efficient treatment, of all children to be included in the parties.

30. Mr. Ede

asked the Minister of Health when it is proposed to commence the second evacuation of the priority classes?

Mr. Elliot

The supplementary scheme of evacuation, which is confined to unaccompanied schoolchildren, has already been carried out in several areas, and I anticipate that it will be completed in all the evacuating areas in the next two or three weeks.

Mr. Sorensen

Can the Minister give any kind of estimate of the total number of children concerned in this second evacuation?

Mr. Elliot

The register was 30,000 to 40,000 but the actual number was rather smaller.

Mr. J. Morgan

In the event of any of the children examined by the medical officers being found unfit in some respect, will they be detained until they are fit?

Sir Joseph Lamb


Mr. Speaker

I think hon. Members should put any further questions on the Paper.

31. Mr. Ede

asked the Minister of Health what attention is being given by the billeting authorities to the need for arranging billets for evacuated secondary schoolchildren within travelling distance of a secondary school; and has he issued any instructions or advice on this subject?

Mr. Elliot

The local education authorities in co-operation with the billeting authorities and with the Ministry's regional officers and His Majesty's inspectors of schools are giving close attention to the re-arrangement of secondary school children in billets where this appears to be called for on educational grounds. I have called the attention of local authorities to the importance in general of making arrangements for carrying on the education of the children, and in a circular issued on 19th May last my noble friend, the President of the Board of Education, emphasised that children of secondary school type should so far as practicable be billeted in or near places where secondary school accommodation is available. He also stressed that for this purpose contact should be maintained between the local education authorities and the billeting authorities.

Mr. Tomlinson

Will the Minister inform the House how the 52 inspectors of His Majesty's Government belonging to the Board of Education can be available for assistance when they have been mobilised for defence?

Mr. Elliot

I am afraid that I should be involved in a serious quarrel with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, if I attempted to answer questions for his Department.

Mr. A. Reed

Does the Minister really consider it necessary to evacuate young men of 18 and 19 as secondary school children?

Mr. Elliot

It is very difficult to draw a line between one child attending a secondary school and another. That is one of the matters, however, on which, I think, questions might more properly be addressed to the Board of Education.

32. Sir Annesley Somerville

asked the Minister of Health whether any arrangements have been made for the treatment of evacuated children in the receiving areas in respect of notifiable and non-notifiable infectious and contagious diseases, minor ailments and injuries?

Mr. Elliot

Yes, Sir. These matters are dealt with in a circular which I have addressed to local authorities and of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Will the Minister also consider the great importance of nursing attention, by which most of this work could be done and which has been, I think, rather left out of his circular?

Mr. Elliot

There is a reference to it in the circular, but I admit that references are not in themselves sufficient. I am anxious about obtaining as much assistance in the reception areas from the skilled staffs in the evacuation areas as we can possibly manage.

34. Mr. Groves

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that medical men in certain areas to which children have been evacuated are being informed that payment cannot be made out of the funds provided for the medical attendance and treatment of these children unless such medical men have joined the scheme for the protection of practices instituted by a voluntary organisation of medical men; and whether he has sanctioned such procedure?

Mr. Elliot

The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative. I have received a complaint that the condition to which the hon. Member refers was being imposed in one area, but it was ascertained on inquiry that this complaint was without foundation.

Mr. Groves

Is the Minister aware that there is dissatisfaction in this matter; and has he received representations from the Medical Practitioners Union, a body affiliated with the Trades Union Congress; and, if not, will he receive representations from that body on the matter?

Mr. Elliot

I have received representations as a result of which I had the scheme for the area in question examined and found no such condition as is suggested.

36. Mr. Tomlinson

asked the Minister of Health what consultations were held between his Department and local education authorities before the evacuation of school children took place; and whether consultations are entered into with the local education authority before sanction is given for the return of an evacuated school?

Mr. Elliot

Frequent consultations with the local education authorities as such were conducted through the Board of Education. I have also had the advice of a standing advisory committee which contains representative officers of local education authorities. Any consultation with a local education authority before the return of a particular school is sanctioned would be a matter for my Noble Friend the President of the Board of Education.

Mr. Tomlinson

Is the Minister aware that the granting of these facilities before consultation has taken place, is creating difficulties for these local authorities?

Mr. Elliot

I think the hon. Member was discussing that matter with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education only a little while ago. I heard the interchange.

42. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to a letter sent by Mr. H. E. Fellowes, executive control officer, Braintree Rural District Council, to the parents of evacuated children of Trinity county school. Wood Green, intimating that unless a further 4s. per week is paid in respect of each child over 14 years of age steps will be taken to distribute the children over other parishes; whether the authority of his Department was obtained for the issue of this letter; and whether he will give instructions for the withdrawal of the letter and prevent any such threats to break up the educational facilities provided by the school in the present exceptional circumstances?

Mr. Elliot

My attention has been drawn to the letter to which the hon. Member refers: it was not issued with my approval, and I am in communication with the local authority on the subject.

43. Dr. Haden Guest

asked the Minister of Health whether a parent who has evacuated his child to the country by private: arrangement can now get his child billeted in that area; or whether any alternative arrangement for billeting can be made?

Mr. Elliot

I would refer the hon. Member to a circular which I have issued and of which I am sending him a copy. As regards the second part of the question, if the parent of a school child is prepared to transfer the child to the reception area to which its school has been evacuated, the child can, with the prior consent of the local authority for that area, be billeted there under official arrangements.

Dr. Guest

In the case of children who were at the time of the first evacuation on holiday and who remained there at the request of the Government, will the Government take steps to pay the fares of those children, who have forfeited their return fares, to the area where they can be received with the school to which they belong?

Mr. Elliot

I would be quite prepared to examine any case of the kind which the hon. Member brought to my attention.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many hundreds of such cases, and will he not consider the general question and issue instructions to the billeting officers to make payments in these cases?

Mr. Elliot

As the hon. Member knows, he and I have had some consultations on the matter, and I shall be willing to continue them.

Mr. Cluse

Will the parents of unofficial evacuees receive a grant to cover the cost of the return fares of children home in order that they may come under the official scheme?

Mr. Elliot

There are further questions on the Paper on that point.

44. Mr. Viant

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the strong objection entertained by a great many parents to the inoculation of their children, he will remind the local authorities of all areas to which children have been evacuated that the consent of the parents must be obtained before such children are inoculated?

Mr. Elliot

I will bear this in mind in connection with any communication to local authorities on the subject.

46. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that blind persons evacuated from London are receiving domiciliary assistance from the local authorities at a lower rate than obtains in London; that these blind persons anxious to retain their London homes cannot afford to pay the rent and their London landlords are unable to sustain the loss unless the London authorities render assistance; and what arrangements to this end he has in view?

Mr. Elliot

The rates of domiciliary assistance paid to blind persons are a matter for the decision of the local authority concerned, and I have no authority to give any directions in the matter. I understand that the practice of the London County Council is to pay domiciliary assistance to blind persons evacuated from London at a rate based on that current in the reception area adjusted according to the needs of the case and that they are considering the question whether any special provision should be made to cover the rents of the London homes of these persons.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these people were informed that their stay would not be prolonged, that the London County Council would make lots of arrangements to help them to pay their rent, and that the council are now saving something like 10s. a week for every evacuated blind person?

Mr. Elliot

I should hesitate to accept such a statement without further inquiry especially in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison).

Mr. Sorensen

Did the right hon. Gentleman not answer a supplementary question which referred the questioner to a later question, and will he say whether the question in the name of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price), No. 45, is the question to which he referred?

Mr. Elliot

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Sorensen

Could the Minister answer the supplementary question now, seeing that unwittingly the House has been misled?

Mr. Speaker

That would be creating a dangerous precedent.

47. Mr. Vernon Bartlett

asked the Minister of Health whether any con- cessions can be made in the poorer reception areas in connection with supplies of blankets, coal, gas and electricity for evacuees?

Mr. Elliot

I have no reason to suppose that the billeting allowances payable to householders are inadequate to enable them to carry out the duties which they have undertaken: supplies of blankets are being made available to local authorities to meet the needs of householders who are unable to make this provision. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, I shall be glad to look into it.

50. Mr. McEntee

asked the Minister of Health what is the number of expectant mothers and mothers with young children who were evacuated at the outbreak of war; what is the approximate number who have since returned to their homes; and can he say what are the principal reasons given by such mothers for their return home?

Mr. Elliot

About 11,000 expectant mothers and 445,000 mothers and young children were evacuated. I am at present awaiting a return from local authorities as to the numbers who still remain in the reception areas, and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I have complete information. Reports made to me indicate that a desire to return to their husbands and homes and also a difficulty in adapting themselves to the conditions of country life are among the principal reasons for returning.