HC Deb 26 June 1940 vol 362 cc439-40
26. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in connection with the Local Defence Volunteers or otherwise, he will set up for each parish an organised system of protection with a local commandant in each village to organise its defence?

Mr. Law

Local defence must be organised in relation to defence requirements as a whole; but my hon. Friend can rest assured that one of the main objects for which the Local Defence Volunteers have been raised is to give local security to villages, most of which now have their own Local Defence Volunteer detachments under a local commander.

Mr. Cocks

If it is the policy of the Government to make each village a fortress, who is responsible for such a matter as rendering fields unfit for aerial landings?

Mr. Law

The responsible authority is the War Office.

Mr. Cocks

Who is the responsible authority in the locality for doing these things?

Mr. Law

The orders for doing these things are sent to the local military commanders.

Sir Richard Acland

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that neither the commanders of Local Defence Volunteers nor the volunteers themselves have the remotest idea of what kind of physical structures they should now be preparing in villages and fields in order to make them as strong as possible against tanks? Should not some kind of lead be given to these people, who are very keen to be getting on with their job?

Mr. Law

The hon. Member's information differs from that which I have received. If he draws my attention to any particular case he has in mind, I will look into it.

Sir R. Acland

Could the hon. Gentleman publish the instructions which he has sent, because none have arrived?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Have instructions been given to local volunteer detachments to prepare defences of any kind?

Mr. Law

Certainly, Sir.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is my hon. Friend aware that the whole matter of the defence of vital posts throughout the country is really a military matter for the military authorities, and not a matter for the civil authorities?

Mr. G. Strauss

Should not the War Office issue an order for the erection of these posts?

Mr. Law

The military authority is issuing orders all the time.

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