HC Deb 06 August 1940 vol 363 cc4-7
4. Commander King-Hall

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that whereas Local Defence Volunteers personnel have been informed that steel helmets are not available for issue to them, yet this protective headgear can be purchased in shops at from 10s. to 15s. a helmet; and will he take steps to acquire these helmets with a view to their issue to the Local Defence Volunteers?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

I have been asked to reply. Urgent steps are being taken to trace any stocks of steel helmets in the hands of manufacturers or distributors, with a view to taking them over for Government purposes. Investigations from retail shops have disclosed that in general stocks are negligible or non-existent and that such retailers cannot, in fact, procure further supplies. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any information as to available supplies, I should be very grateful to receive it.

6. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will authorise and encourage Local Defence Volunteers to use their own initiative and military knowledge in improvising defence and offence measures in their areas to defend their localities, prevent any speedy radiation of possible invaders and use every means of sabotaging and defeating the enemy?

39. Sir Smedley Crooke

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that barriers on the roads which were hurriedly erected in May have since been removed; and who is responsible for this waste of public money, time, material and effort?

Mr. Eden

In answering Question No. 6, I will also answer No. 39, to which I have been asked to reply. Local Defence Volunteers are certainly encouraged to use their own initiative and military knowledge, but the independent construction of defence works, unless in conformity with a general plan, might do more harm than good. I am informed that, in some cases, private individuals have erected defence works without previous consultation with the military authorities, and that many of these were ill sited and have had to be dismantled. I should like to take this opportunity of making it clear that the military authorities should be consulted in all cases before defence works are undertaken.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that if 1,000 German cyclists run over the country, there will not be time to consult the military authorities as to what is to be done, and that unless the Local Defence Volunteers are encouraged to use their own initiative, there may be constant waiting for instructions from the military authorities?

Mr. Eden

I do not share the hon. Member's apprehension about 1,000 German cyclists, or even a much larger number.

Miss Rathbone

Will the Minister say whether the instructions promised by the Lord Privy Seal, as to what part able-bodied civilians of both sexes will be allowed to take in defence against enemy invasion, will soon be forthcoming?

Mr. Eden

That is quite a different Question from that on the Paper.

Sir Herbert Williams

Do I understand that Local Defence Volunteers have no responsibility for the siting of barricades?

Mr. Eden

That is not what I said. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will read my reply.

14. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the Secretary of State for War why Councillor H. G. Stanford, of Chalfont St. Peters, Buckinghamshire, an ex-naval man, and crack shot with both rifle and revolver, who applied in proper form about six weeks ago to join the Local Defence Volunteers, has not yet been enrolled, although the section for his area is under strength?

7. Mr. Ness Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for War, why two members of the South Wales Miners Federation, resident in the village of Trelewis, Glamorgan, have been refused the right to enrol in the Local Defence Volunteers; and what authority determines who is eligible for enrolment?

26. Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the circumstances in which Mr. James Bostock, group-commander of the Stafford Local Defence Volunteers, left the force; and what action he proposes to take?

Mr. Eden

I am making inquiries into these cases, and will communicate with my hon. Friends as soon as possible.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that I wrote him about this case almost a month ago?

Mr. Eden

I think the hon. Member will appreciate that individual cases of men who want to join the Local Defence Volunteers cannot be dealt with by my Department, but I will certainly do what I can.

Mr. Shinwell

Has the right hon. Gentleman issued any instructions to local commandants as to who should be permitted to join and who should be rejected? Is it possible for Members to see what instructions have been issued?

Mr. Eden

Certainly there were general rules. I can give the hon. Member information about them.

Mr. Charles Brown

Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that political discrimination is not being made?

Mr. Eden

; I am absolutely sure. I think the Local Defence Volunteers themselves are quite confident of that.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Does the right hon. Gentleman think he will still be of that opinion when he has examined this case?

Mr. Eden

Yes, I do.

22. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take steps to accelerate the supply of arms to members of the Local Defence Volunteers, especially to those who are members of the British Legion and ex-Service men?

Mr. Eden

Everything in my power is being done to accelerate the supply of arms to Local Defence Volunteers.

Mr. Cocks

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that, although Sparta did not have walls, it had weapons?

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that much defence could be carried out without arms, that there are any number of expedients that could be used, and that the Local Defence Volunteers should be encouraged to use them?