HC Deb 04 June 1940 vol 361 cc756-9
10. Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive

asked the Secretary of State for War what types of ammunition may be used by Local Defence Volunteers who may be armed with shot-guns or sporting rifles?

Mr. Eden

Local Defence Volunteers providing their own shot-guns or sporting rifles may use ordinary shot-gun cartridges or buckshot with the former, and bullets other than soft-nosed or expanding with the latter.

Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive

Will there be any restriction on the purchase of this ammunition by volunteers?

Mr. Eden

I do not think so. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend would have a word with me about it later.

11. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Secretary of State for War whether Army officers on the retired list who are authorised to wear uniform on appropriate occasions and who are authorised to retain their rank may, if duly enrolled in the new anti-parachute corps, wear their old uniforms on duty until such time as new ones are available and issued; and, if so, whether they must remove their badges of rank?

Mr. Eden

Retired Army officers who enrol in the Local Defence Volunteer Force should conform in all respects to what is prescribed for the Force when they are on duty as members of it.

15. Commander Locker-Lampson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will allow home defence forces in include elements which know the district where they are operating; and whether, in this connection, he will allow back from overseas gamekeepers and others acquainted with the use of firearms for service in their own districts against parachutists?

Mr. Eden

As has been stated in answer to previous Questions, personnel are allotted to Home Defence battalions, so far as is practicable, which are stationed near their homes, and Local Defence Volunteers are definitely to be employed near their homes. My hon. and gallant Friend will understand that the transfer of men from Field Force units cannot in present circumstances be considered.

18. Mrs. Tate

asked the Secretary of State for War whether adequate numbers of volunteers have been enlisted for the defence of London; and whether those volunteers are armed with defensive firearms issued by the War Office or with weapons provided by themselves?

Sir William Davison

Is it in the national interest that a Question of this nature should be on the Order Paper in the House of Commons? Can nothing be done in the matter?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister need not answer it.

Mr. Eden

Sufficient volunteers are available for the defence of London. Those detailed for the defence of vital factories and certain public utility services are armed with weapons issued by the War Office; the remainder are detailed for specified duties, and, where necessary, are armed either by the War Office or with weapons provided by themselves.

Mrs. Tate

Is my right hon. Friend aware that very large numbers of volunteers in inner London are resigning because they are not allowed either to use their own arms or to be provided with arms?

Sir W. Davison

Does not that Supplementary Question show the desirability of either you, Mr. Speaker, or some committee, vetting these Questions before they are placed on the Order Paper, considering that the country is fighting for its life against a foe who studies these Questions meticulously?

Mr. Speaker

That question may be considered.

49. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to put all air-raid precautions organisations throughout the country under military control and discipline?

50. Mr. Cary

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that an essential part of German military technique in tank air attack is the herding of all civilians on to main roads between important centres of communication; that in Northern France and Belgium the mobility of allied military forces was greatly handicapped as the result of the movement of the civilian population in this way, as roads vital for counter measures to invasion became a shambles of civilian casualties and broken wagons and motor cars; and will he take immediate steps to ensure that in any part of Great Britain which may be subjected to intensive bombardment from the air, the civilian population comes automatically under the control of the competent military authority?

52. Mr. Price

asked the Prime Minister whether any steps are contemplated for bringing under a single command the Local Defence Volunteers, the air-raid precautions service and special constables?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Attlee)

If at any time and in any area military necessities so require, the military authorities will assume complete control of all defence organisations and civil authorities. In the meantime radical changes in the composition and organisation of the Civil Defence Services would be undesirable. The military authorities already work in close touch with the Regional Commissioners, who can be invested by the Minister of Home Security with all necessary powers.

Mr. De la Bère

Does not my right hon. Friend realise the difficulty of effecting this transition when the emergency does arise? Is it not better to do it before the emergency has arisen?

Mr. Attlee

If the hon. Member will read the answer he will see that all provision has been made for action in an emergency.

Mr. Price

Is not the Minister of the opinion that the efficiency of the three Services would be very greatly increased if they were all under a single command to-day?

28. Mr. Cocks

asked the Minister of Information whether he will prepare an instructional film showing the general public what action to take in encounters with parachute troopers; and also a more technical film for the instruction of Local Defence Volunteers?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information (Mr. Harold Nicolson)

The preparation of both the types of film suggested was considered several weeks ago, but, after careful examination, it was decided that the necessary instructions would be better conveyed by other means.

Mr. Cocks

By what means does the Minister intend to do it?

Mr. Nicolson

It is at present contemplated to do it by means of pamphlets which will be circulated to every household, and they will provide full instructions.