HC Deb 04 July 1940 vol 362 cc987-90
30. Mr. E. Smith

asked the Home Secretary whether he will issue instructions that local authorities shall at once take steps to provide all people in the lower income grades with adequate air-raid shelter accommodation at their homes?

84. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the wide area now covered by enemy attack, he will favourably consider a review of shelter policy with the view of providing shelters in every area?

Sir J. Anderson

So far as the specified areas are concerned, I think that local authorities are fully aware of their responsibilities. So far as concerns the areas not hitherto specified, I am taking certain further steps, but it is clear that residents in those areas must now rely in the main on measures of protection which they can provide themselves, in accordance with the advice given in recent official publications, and with assistance in certain directions from local authorities.

Mr. Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that where Anderson shelters have been provided in the areas concerned, it has given great satisfaction to the people who have got them, but it has also created anxiety among those who have not been provided with them? In those circumstances will he be prepared to meet a deputation of Members of this House who desire to see him on this matter?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir, I shall be very glad indeed.

Mr. Taylor

In the areas that are not specified, will the local authorities have power to make provision for people, and will they be able to receive a grant from the Government for so doing?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, indeed.

42. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Home Secretary whether he has yet been able to strengthen any existing air-raid shelters, more particularly in the vulnerable target areas?

Sir J. Anderson

So far as I am aware, local authorities have not embarked upon this course, and, in present circumstances, I do not think it would be right for me to press them to do so.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the matter particularly in regard to aircraft factories, harbours and such like places?

Sir J. Anderson

I think my hon. Friend knows that I have considered the matter. I addressed a letter to him a short time ago on the subject from that point of view. The matter is really one of labour and material.

Mr. George Griffiths

Will the Home Secretary see to it that the places which have not got shelters shall receive shelters before the others, as there are thousands of places which have not shelters?

Sir J. Anderson

I quite agree, and that is why I do not want to concentrate material unnecessarily in particular places while other places are not provided for.

Sir Herbert Williams

If the problem is one of labour and material, is my right hon. Friend aware that in the South of England there is a vast number of people unemployed in the building industry?

43. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Home Secretary whether he has rescinded the limitation on the provision of public shelters by local authorities to a certain percentage of the population in the area?

Sir J. Anderson

There has been no arbitrary limitation by percentages, but it is possible that local authorities have tended to attach too much importance to the percentages tentatively suggested in the Department's Circular of 25th April, 1939. If my hon. Friend will inform me of any cases which he has in mind, I shall be very glad to look into them.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will consider giving a general instruction to local authorities that they should provide the shelters which they believe to be necessary irrespective of all suggestions about the percentages which have previously been made?

Sir J. Anderson

I will consider that.

44. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Home Secretary whether he is now using compulsory powers to induce local authorities to construct communal shelters for all sections of their respective areas for which no shelter at present exists?

Sir J. Anderson

Wide powers have been delegated to Regional Commissioners in this matter and in some cases an intimation that they would be used in the absence of more rapid progress has been given and has had effect.

60. Mr. Wilfrid Roberts

asked the Home Secretary whether he has now recommended the specifications of the two stage air-raid shelter to local authorities?

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir. In present circumstances the local authorities should concentrate their efforts on the most urgent task of increasing the amount of shelter provided; and I do not think it would be right to do anything at present which might have the effect of preventing them from giving their undivided attention to this work.

Mr. Roberts

In view of the credit which the Home Secretary took to himself in a recent speech on this improved idea for shelters, would it not be reasonable to circulate to local authorities his suggestion as to this method of making effective shelters, especially in the most vulnerable districts?

Sir J. Anderson

I will certainly consider that, but the hon. Member, no doubt, realises that many things have happened since I made that speech.

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