HC Deb 25 January 1940 vol 356 cc754-6
21. Sir W. Brass

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction expressed by householders as a result of the present instructions concerning children evacuated under private arrangement and where payments have been stopped since 2nd January for children who were not in the reception area on or before 31st August, 1939, and are consequently not recognised as coming within the scope of the Government scheme, with the result that children will be sent back to the vulnerable areas only to be re-evacuated to other reception areas at considerable cost and inconvenience; and whether, in view of this, he will give fresh instructions in order to prevent this unnecessary movement?

Mr. Elliot

The evacuation scheme was based on the evacuation of children in their school groups and has never contained any suggestion that billeting allowances should be paid in respect of children whose parents could have sent them away with their schools but preferred to make private arrangements for them outside the scheme. A concession has been made in the case of children who were away from home when the scheme came into operation. So far as conditions in the reception areas allow, arrangements can be made for children who were privately evacuated to be reunited to their schools in the appropriate areas and to be billeted there.

Sir W. Brass

Does my right hon. Friend realise that if this policy is persisted in evacuated children in reception areas, under this scheme, have to be sent hack to the dangerous areas and re-evacuated at great expense?

Mr. Elliot

This has been the policy since the beginning and has been frequently considered.

27. Mr. Batey

asked the Minister of Health the total number of children evacuated since the beginning of the war, also the number of mothers; and the numbers of both classes who have returned home?

Mr. Elliot

As the answer includes a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Simmonds

Is my right hon. Friend now satisfied that the rate of flow of these people back to evacuation areas has been reduced?

Mr. Elliot

I should not like to give an answer to that offhand.

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the children are returning? Is it a half or three-quarters?

Mr. Elliot

There is a table of figures here but I think it would be undesirable to give an answer across the Floor of the House.

Sir W. Brass

Can the Minister say how many of those who were evacuated under the Government scheme have returned by private arrangement?

Mr. Elliot

Very few indeed.

Following is the answer:

Children were evacuated either in school parties or accompanied by their mothers. The total numbers evacuated and the numbers who had returned by the 8th January are:

Number evacuated. Number returned.
Unaccompanied children 734,883 315,192
Accompanied children 260,276 223,381
Mothers 166,206 145,681