HC Deb 01 August 1940 vol 363 cc1377-9
20. Mr. Ness Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers have now been given to rural, urban and county authorities in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire to provide, or assist in providing, private domestic shelters, communal shelters and public shelters; and the basis for the reimbursement of the respective authorities?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir John Anderson)

These are questions which, as my hon. Friend is aware, have come into prominence as the result of the extension of shelter schemes to areas not hitherto specified under Part III of the Civil Defence Act. The arrangement made in Glamorgan is that public shelters to an agreed limit remain the responsibility of the county authority, and that other shelters, including all unit or multiple unit domestic shelters, are to be provided by the district councils. Arrangements in Monmouth are under discussion between the county and the district councils. As to finance, the position is, broadly, that the cost of materials used in the construction of domestic shelters is wholly reimbursed by the Exchequer, and that other expenditure ranks for grant at the appropriate rate.

Mr. Edwards

Will the right hon. Gentleman, through his Regional inspectors, see that this work is expeditiously carried out?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir. Close attention is being given to the matter.

34. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the need for more air-raid shelters for evacuated children in rural Essex, not only near their schools but also near or at the billets; and whether he will take action to assist the Essex County Council and rural authorities to meet this need?

Sir J. Anderson

The provision of air-raid shelters for children while at school is a matter for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education. So far as concerns shelter near billets in unspecified areas, the Essex County Council have informed district councils, in accordance with a circular recently issued by my Department, that they will be ready to give immediate approval to plans for providing shelter in places where there are aggregations of population or in the vicinity of points specially liable to attack. I ought, however, to make it clear that it is unlikely that the labour and materials available will permit the provision of shelter in all areas to which children may have been evacuated.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is not only this question but that there is financial limitation which in some measure restricts the supply of air-raid precautions? Could he not consider that?

Sir J. Anderson

I do not believe that financial difficulties are restricting the provision of shelters.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are two other Questions down with regard to the provision of shelters for school children, and that I could mention four or five areas? So far we have had stereotyped replies from the three Departments. Will the right hon. Gentleman see that there is some unity of action between them to provide shelters? The German bomber does not distinguish between evacuation and reception areas. Could the right hon. Gentleman give some decision?

Sir J. Anderson

There is complete co-ordination between the Departments concerned if the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Board of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Home Security.

Mr. de Rothschild

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that a supply of cement is given to these areas to build shelters? At present they are given none at all.

Sir J. Anderson

That is another matter, and that is one of the difficulties to which the Department is addressing itself.

61. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary whether he will make the necessary arrangements with the local authorities whereby seating and lighting will be incorporated in the street air-raid shelters that are now being erected?

Sir J. Anderson

My Department has in preparation an instruction to local authorities dealing with these questions.

64. Mr. Cocks

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that the area of vulnerability has been greatly ex- tended since the occupation of the French coast by the enemy, steps are being taken to supply Anderson shelters to the new vulnerable districts?

Sir J. Anderson

I greatly regret that, in view of the demands for steel for more urgent war purposes, it is impracticable to resume manufacture of the standard steel shelter so as to enable supplies to be issued to areas which have not already received them. General instructions have, however, been issued to all local authorities regarding the various means of providing alternative forms of shelter at or near the homes of the people.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that many local authorities sent back as many as 3,000 of these shelters, that they would not accept them at the time when they were available, and that they are now crying out for them?

Sir J. Anderson

It is true that some were sent back, but it was a very small proportion of the whole. In all 2,300,000 shelters were issued.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is the Minister aware that a great deal of feeling is being caused in various parts of the country when people hear of the efficacy of shelters while they themselves have no shelters and are subject to air raids?

Sir J. Anderson

I think that is another matter.

66. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Home Secretary whether he will instruct local authorities that the locking of air-raid shelters during the hours of daylight should be discontinued?

Sir J. Anderson

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 27th June to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Gillingham (Sir R. Gower).

Mr. Simmonds

Is my right hon. Friend aware that only a few days ago members of the public who went to take shelter during an air raid found that the shelter had been locked?

Sir J. Anderson

Perhaps my hon. Friend will be good enough to give me particulars, and I will look into them.