HC Deb 07 November 1940 vol 365 cc1425-6
54. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary whether any steps have yet been taken to increase the military assistance for clearing up the débris in London?

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir. Contingents of the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, now totalling about 6,800 men, have already been drafted into the London Region for work on the clearance of débris; and the military authorities have undertaken that a further 3,200 will be made available for this work in the immediate future. These figures do not take into account contingents of skilled men which the Army have put at the disposal of the civil authorities for certain specialist work in connection with the repair of damage caused by air raids.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Will my right lion Friend give consideration to getting the men at work clearing up the débris as early as possible, especially having regard to some of the bombed areas?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. I appreciate the importance of my hon. Friend's point.

Sir William Davison

Who is responsible for billeting these soldiers? Is it the military or the local authorities, as there seems to be some misunderstanding?

Mr. Morrison

The Army themselves, I understand, are responsible.

Major Milner

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the efforts of the military are interfered with owing to the lack of transport, and will he look into that?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, that is one of the elements of the difficulties which is engaging attention.

Colonel Arthur Evans

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that these 10,000 men in all will prove sufficient, and, if not, is he taking any steps at all to recruit unemployed miners, in South Wales particularly, for work for which they are eminently suitable?

Mr. Morrison

That is being considered, but there are other considerations, including billeting, which is a very serious difficulty in London, that must be taken into account.