HC Deb 12 November 1940 vol 365 cc1586-7
66. Sir Richard Acland

asked the Home Secretary how many miners have as yet been brought to London to work on extending underground tunnellings for shelter purposes?

Miss Wilkinson

None as yet. The decision to embark upon this work has just been taken and, although no time has been or will be lost, there is much to arrange before the actual digging work can start. My right hon. Friend is in close contact with the Minister for Mines and with hon. Members representing mining constituencies regarding the employment of miners for work of this and other kinds in London.

Sir R. Acland

Does the hon. Lady really say that no time has been lost, as this is about the fifteenth week since the matter came up and a decision has only just been taken?

Miss Wilkinson

I think the hon. Member is a bit wrong in his dates. The actual decision to do this underground tunnelling work has been taken during the last month; the arrangement with the London Passenger Transport Board could only be made last week, actually on Thursday last, and if you take a decision on Thursday to start a complicated engineering job like this, you cannot put miners to dig on the following Monday morning.

Sir R. Acland

I was thinking of the time lost in taking this decision since the opening of the bombing.

Miss Wilkinson

At that time neither I nor my right hon. Friend was responsible.

Mr. Shinwell

Why does the hon. Lady "pass the buck" to other Members of the Government?

Mr. Gurney Braithwaite

Is the hon. Lady aware that the reply which she has given to the House gives an entirely different impression from that given by the Minister of Labour in his public speeches?

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Is the hon. Lady aware that three years ago a scheme for utilising tunnels was submitted to the Home Secretary?