§ 24. Mr. Lipson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether 2230 he will reconsider the percentage of grant to be paid to local education authorities on expenditure incurred in providing protection for schoolchildren against enemy attack, in view of the fact that the decision to reopen schools in evacuation and neutral areas has increased considerably the amount of money that local authorities will be called upon to spend for this purpose?
§ 33. Mr. Groves
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the county borough of West Ham estimates that the provision of air-raid shelters for schools will cost £17,000; and, in view of the great concern felt by this and other authorities at the refusal to pay grants in respect of air-raid precautions work for schools, in accordance with the agreements reached with representatives of local authorities and embodied in the Schedule to the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1937 whether he will cause inquiries to be made and make the necessary adjustments?
§ 40. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of considerable resentment among education committees and other local authorities at the refusal to pay grants in respect of air-raid precautions work for schools, in accordance with agreements reached with local authorities and embodied in the Schedule of the Air-Raid Precautions Act of 1937; and whether, in view of the alleged breach of these agreements, he will arrange for an inquiry to be made into the undertakings reached and given in the negotiations between local authorities and the Home Office and the extent to which these undertakings and understandings have been varied?
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir John Anderson)
The statement which I have recently received from the Associations of Local Authorities on the financing of Civil Defence expenditure in time of war includes a specific reference to the rate of grant for protective works at schools, and I shall consider their representations on this matter on their merits. As regards the proposal for an inquiry into the negotiations which took place in 1937, I would refer to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to Questions yesterday by the hon. Members for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) and for Doncaster (Mr. J. Morgan) and to 2231 the reply which I gave on 21st February to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall).
§ Mr. Lipson
Is my right hon. Friend aware that over 270 education authorities, very responsible bodies, regard his action in this matter of the grant as a breach of faith of the undertaking to the local authorities; and seeing that the good faith of the Government is involved, will he submit to an agreed third-party judgment on this one issue of whether the action he is taking is in accordance with the terms of the undertaking or not?
§ Sir J. Anderson
I am aware that resolutions in practically identical terms have been passed by a number of local education authorities. They are all based upon one and the same statement, issued by someone who was not a party to the negotiations in 1937. I myself was not a party to those negotiations, but I have examined the verbatim record with the greatest care, and I am quite satisfied that there is no foundation for the suggestion that any breach of faith is involved. I should be very glad if any hon. Member who is sufficiently interested will come to the Home Office and see the verbatim record for himself.
§ Mr. Lipson
If my right hon. Friend is so sure of his case, what is the objection to submitting it to an agreed third-parry judgment?
§ Mr. Thorne
Did the Minister read the text of the Supplementary Question which I put to the Prime Minister yesterday?
§ 45. Mr. Banfield
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the representations of local authorities respecting the refusal of the Government to pay grants in respect of air-raid precautions work for schools, he will move to appoint a Committee of this House to inquire and report on the understandings reached and undertakings given in the negotiations between local authorities and the Home Office and to report by whose authority and to what extent these understandings and undertakings have been varied?
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave yesterday in reply to Questions on this subject.
§ Mr. Banfield
In view of the very wide difference of opinion on this matter between the local authorities and the Home Office, will the Prime Minister not make some inquiry?
§ The Prime Minister
I think the hon. Member probably heard what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said this afternoon on the subject.
§ Mr. Banfield
May I ask the Prime Minister to note that it still widens the difference between the views of the Home Office and the views of the local authorities?