HC Deb 11 July 1940 vol 362 cc1312-5
11. Mr. Ammon

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that in some of the reception areas in the West Country, to which school children have been recently evacuated, no air-raid shelter is provided, and that in some instances the children have been taken from the school and placed against hedges and bushes; and what steps it is proposed to take to remedy so undesirable a condition of affairs?

The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Ramsbotham)

The nature and extent of the protection, if any, at a particular school are matters for the discretion of the local education authority in consultation with the local A.R.P. authority. In rural areas, except where aerodromes or other similar objectives are in close proximity to the school, there is, generally speaking, no occasion for formal protec- tion other than simple precautions of the type recommended for private households in the pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Home Security entitled "Your Home as an Air-Raid Shelter." Local education authorities have recently been informed in the Board's Administrative Memorandum No. 233, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy, that the practice of dispersing children to such cover as tray be available in open country is not now recommended.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

In view of the changed conditions, are there now different standards in evacuation and reception areas?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I do not quite know what the hon. Gentleman means by "different standards." In rural areas, of course, broadly speaking, it is for local education authorities to decide, in consultation with the local A.R.P. authorities, the degree and form of protection necessary.

Mr. Lindsay

The whole point is that the conditions have so changed now that you cannot make quite the same distinction between areas as you could six months ago.

Mr. Ramsbotham

In that case it is a matter for discussion between the school authorities and the A.R.P. authorities to see whether further protection is required.

Mr. James Griffiths

Is the Board of Education making a current review of some of the places to which children have been evacuated, in view of recent conditions?

Mr. Ramsbotham

This matter is always under review by local education and A.R.P. authorities, and it is the responsibility of these two authorities to decide what protection is necessary for the schools in question.

Mr. Griffiths

Is it the local authority or the central authority which decides the places which have to be evacuated, and is the central authority the responsible authority for reviewing places in my area, where children have had unhappy experiences during the last few days?

Mr. Ramsbotham

The central authority in that case is the Ministry of Health.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would it not be desirable for the Board to send a circular to all authorities particularly in rural areas, calling their attention to the changed conditions and asking them to see whether shelter provision ought not now to be provided?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I am sure local education authorities are aware of their responsibilities in this matter, but the question of re-classifying areas is one for the Ministry of Health and not my Department.

57. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent the construction of air-raid shelters has been impeded by difficulties in the transport of bricks; and what steps he proposes to take to remove these difficulties?

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

The question of obtaining increased supplies of bricks for this and other purposes is under review by the Government; but I have no reason to believe that transport difficulties have played any significant part in present shortages.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the reports of many local authorities which are unable to obtain bricks because they are not allowed to carry them by lorry for a distance of more than 30 miles?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir, I know these complaints were made some time ago. I believe the present position is a shortage of supply and not a lack of transport.

Mr. Thurtle

If information is brought to the right hon. Gentleman's notice showing that transport is still a difficulty, will he take some action?

Sir J. Anderson

I certainly will, because I am most anxious that bricks should be available for civilian defence, especially in the most vulnerable areas.

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

Is the Minister aware that local brick works in the country are "going broke" because they cannot get any business, and that in most cases they are told they must wait until these great monopoly concerns produce the bricks?

Mr. F. Anderson

Is the Minister aware that on the main lines near London there are millions of bricks standing on the sidings?

Sir J. Anderson

Those bricks may be required for purposes near at hand, but the whole matter is receiving attention.