HC Deb 06 June 1940 vol 361 cc975-6
14. Mr. David Adams

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take over immediately, for the purpose of accommodating evacuated school children, all the guest houses of the Co-operative Holiday Association, Holiday Friendship Association and similar organisations; and what estimates he has made as to the capacities of these guest houses?

Mr. M. MacDonald

It is for the local authorities concerned, who have surveyed the available accommodation in their areas, to consider in each case whether, having regard to their billeting and other requirements, a particular centre of this type should be used to accommodate evacuated children. Many premises belonging to the two associations mentioned and to similar organisations have been used at one time or another in connection with the Government evacuation scheme, but I should deprecate their general requisitioning in advance of a specific need arising.

Mr. Adams

Does not the Minister agree that private billeting was the prime cause of the failure of the last evacuation scheme, and is he not preparing alternative accommodation?

Mr. MacDonald

The hon. Member knows that the Government sent a circular to the local authorities asking them to make arrangements for hostels and to requisition accommodation for that purpose, if necessary, where private billeting cannot do the job.

12. Mr. Martin

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the increased danger of invasion by troop-carriers, parachutists, etc., and the necessity of replying to it by heavy gunfire and bombing, he will abstain from encouraging parents to evacuate their children save where they can be placed in districts where the protection is at least as good as that in the evacuated areas?

Mr. MacDonald

The possibilities to which the hon. Member refers are borne in mind, and the whole situation is kept under constant review. If it is decided that any particular area is unsuitable for the reception of children, they will not be sent there. But the general desirability of dispersing children as widely as possible from the most densely populated or the most threatened areas remains unaffected.