HC Deb 26 October 1939 vol 352 cc1554-6
52. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Home Secretary whether he contemplates the provision of uniforms for paid airraid precautions workers; what would be the cost of this project to the country; if it is intended first of all to make ample provision for uniforms for the fighting forces; and if, instead of uniforms, armlets or badges would provide adequate distinction for persons engaged in Civil Defence?

82. Lieut.-Commander Tufnell

asked the Home Secretary whether the wearing of air-raid precautions uniforms is compulsory; and whether there has been any substantial demand for them by air-raid precautions workers?

Sir J. Anderson

As I announced on 10th July in answer to a question by the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Morrison), the Government are placing local authorities in a position to provide overalls of uniform type for all air-raid precautions volunteers on a grant-aided basis if they wish to do so. The average cost may be taken as us. per volunteer supplied with uniform but, as the adoption of the uniform will not be obligatory on local authorities and as the numerical strength of the various services is at present under review, I am not able to give any close estimate of the eventual total cost. The choice of cloth, and the arrangements for making up the garments, have been carefully concerted with the Service Departments so as to avoid any interference with the supply of uniforms for the fighting services. The object in providing these overalls is not so much to distinguish members of these services as to provide them with a serviceable garment in which to perform their duties without unnecessary damage to their own clothing; and I am satisfied that there is a widespread demand for them among members of all the air-raid precautions services.

Sir P. Hannon

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether a badge or armlet would meet the requirements?

Sir J. Anderson

That would not give very effective protection.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that any useful purpose is served by this constant disrespect for the voluntary services?

54. Mr. Ede

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that employers of limited financial resources find it impossible to reimburse employés who are part-time members of the air-raid precautions services for the loss of remunerative time when called out by an air-raid warning; and in those circumstances will he take steps to allow such men and women to be reimbursed from public funds?

Sir J. Anderson

I should be most reluctant to advocate any general system of payment from public funds to part-time personnel for time lost. The additional expenditure involved might ultimately be very heavy. As I have previously indicated, I look to employers who are directly interested in maintaining Civil. Defence in a state of efficiency to take a generous attitude in the matter of releasing employés to meet emergency calls. I fully recognise that there will be cases of employers in the position described by the hon. Gentleman: but I should hope that for the most part duty rosters could be so arranged as to avoid calling upon employés of such firms during normal hours of work. At the same time, I recognise that circumstances might arise, particularly during acute or prolonged emergency, where some special arrangement would have to be made, and this is one of the points to which consideration is being given in connection with the review now in progress.

68. Sir Assheton Pownall

asked the Home Secretary whether the paid personnel of the air-raid precautions and casualty services undergo medical inspection, in view of the fact that they could claim compensation for illness or injury contracted in the performance of their duties?

Sir J. Anderson

Except in the case of the Auxiliary Fire Services, where special considerations apply, no requirement of this nature has been laid down by my Department.

74. Sir George Mitcheson

asked the Home Secretary whether he can now give an approximate estimate of the weekly wage cost of air-raid precautions?

Sir J. Anderson

On the basis of returns furnished by local authorities for the month of September, it is estimated that the average weekly expenditure in that month on the pay of whole-time volunteers enrolled in the Air-Raid Precautions and Emergency Fire Services was approximately £720,000. As stated in reply to previous questions on this subject, the establishment of whole-time personnel in these services is now under review.