§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Munro.]
§ Mr. James Griffiths Llanelly)
We devoted yesterday to the discussion of the defence of the civilian population against air attack, with particular reference to London. It is the desire of hon. Members who hail from the Provinces, and who represent provincial areas, that to-day should be devoted to a discussion of problems of the same kind affecting us in those centres. During the Debate yesterday, tributes were paid to the courage and fortitude with which the people of London are facing this grim ordeal of the "Blitzkrieg." Those of us who, coming on business to London, share to a small extent the ordeal through which those people are passing want to pay our tribute to the courage and fortitude that the people of London are showing in this ordeal. But every hon. Member who comes from the Provinces will want to pay tribute also to the courage and fortitude shown by people outside London whenever similar experiences have befallen them.
The past few years in Europe has shown very clearly that totalitarian wars, modern wars, are won or lost by the spirit of the populations. One of the most remarkable things in recent years has been that wars have been lost by countries while their armies are still in being, because the civilian populations have cracked. There is a growing realisation that if we are to succeed—as we must succeed—in winning this war, one of our primary considerations must be the protection of the biggest army of all, the civilian army of this country. To the Nazis, the civilians are a military objective—the first military objective. The Nazis seek to defeat this country by defeating the civilian population. All who know the story of the growth of the Nazi movement—and some of us realised it before others—know that this is a technique which they have always adopted. They secured power in their own country by terrorising their opponents. They secured domination in Europe by terrorising the civilian population. They are trying to do the same thing here. I believe that they will fail. They are failing; and, in no small 496 measure, that is because of the spirit of the civilian people. Many of us here have had the responsibility of leading bodies of men, making appeals to their loyalty, and paying tribute to their fortitude and courage. There is sometimes a danger, when the people we lead show fortitude and courage, of that spirit being traded upon. That would be a calamity. Loyalty is not something to trade upon; it is something to serve. That loyalty must produce in each one of us a determination to do everything we can to protect those people.
The first reference I want to make is to the appointment of my right hon. Friend to his new post as Home Secretary. I speak for Members in every quarter of the House, and in fact for the whole of this nation on this point. I say that without going into any of the political differences attaching to some of the other appointments. My right hon. Friend is a great national figure, but throughout the country his name is associated with London. We know that the Battle of London is crucial; that if we lose the Battle of London, we have lost the Battle of Britain. My right hon. Friend, who has already carved for himself a niche in the history of this great city, is himself a Londoner, and that fact has already, I believe, instilled new confidence into the people of London. I am sure that that will he an inspiration in the job that he is doing. As one who has always admired him, I want to speak to him about his new tasks. He is taking on what is known by colliers as an "abnormal place." A man who takes on an "abnormal place" is entitled to lay down conditions. I beg of him, as a friend and colleague, not merely for his own personal sake—I know that that does not count—but for the sake of this country, to tell the Prime Minister that some of the duties associated with this office ought to be taken away, and given to somebody else.
The other day I sat here at Question time and listened to my right hon. Friend being questioned about some of the problems that the Home Office have to meet, including the important and urgent problem of aliens, of which we have made such an awful muddle. I do not think that my right hon. Friend ought be asked to turn aside for a moment to deal with a problem of that kind. We have Ministers for the Army, for the Air Force and for 497 the Admiralty, but not the biggest army of all—the civilian army, which is the army that will decide the fate of this country. We have not a Minister for civilian defence. I therefore beg of the Minister—and if the Prime Minister were here, I would ask him too—to let this be the first job. It is a full-time 24-hour job for any man to organise the defence of the millions of civilians in this country, and such a Minister ought not to be troubled with all the other matters of the Home Office. In the changes made in the Government recently there seems to have been a lack of imagination. What we want is not the shifting of personalities but a dividing-up of duties and offices. I know the fighting qualities of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and he ought to act like the collier working in an abnormal working place, who would tell the manager to give him conditions that would enable him to make it a proper working place. I hope that he will do that.
I want to speak about the necessity of revising completely the original plan that was drawn up by the Home Office for Civil Defence outside London and in the country as a whole. The original plan for the defence of the civil population of this country was drawn up and based upon circumstances, conditions and assumptions which have been falsified by events. The original plan was drawn up on the assumption that, if and when we became involved in war with Germany, she proceeded to use, as she is using now, her air force with which to defeat us, France would stand, and that consequently the German Air Force, in bombing this country, would have to set off from bases in the old German territory itself and approach this country in that way. That was a perfectly sound assumption to make, and upon that assumption this country was divided up into three areas—vulnerable areas, including London, the larger cities and the East Coast, neutral areas, and reception areas. All the plans for Civil Defence, A.R.P. schemes, everything we did in this House in the months before war began, and in the early months of the war itself, were based on that assumption. That assumption has now gone. France has fallen, and it is significant that the areas which had to meet the first onslaught of the German bombings were the reception areas. My own area 498 and other areas in Wales were the first to be attacked from the air, and yet they were supposed to be reception areas.
Another point—and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will give attention to it—is that, though the assumption upon which the classification of the country was based has been destroyed, the classification still remains and the country is still divided into those areas. A whole host of problems, such as A.R.P. personnel, Kr ants to local authorities, the extent of the grant depending whether they are in one of those areas, are now completely irrelevant and ought to be abolished. The whole of the country is a vulnerable area. The whole of the civilian population are being bombed. It is true that the extent of the attack varies, but that is not in our hands. No one would guarantee that this attack might not on any day be moved from London to any other provincial town or area. I ask, therefore, that the whole of the classification of the country into vulnerable, neutral and reception areas and all that sort of thing, should be wiped away completely and everything that follows from it. Whatever services are provided in this country, the local authorities should be treated alike, because they are having to meet the same problems in the same way. Following upon the first classification, there was a second, the country being divided into what are called specified and unspecified areas. The whole of my own constituency is an unspecified area, as indeed is almost the whole of Wales, for these services. These areas are the old reception areas. They are called unspecified areas because the whole range and extent of the A.R.P. services and of all measures for civilian defence is very much more limited in unspecified areas than in specified areas. These unspecified areas are now having to face very great problems. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security knows, I and my Welsh colleagues, and representatives from other areas, have met and discussed this question with him and with the Lord President of the Council times without number, without getting any real satisfaction.
I want to urge one or two of our problems upon the new Minister. When the actual bombing of these areas began, the Government had given instructions to stop 499 making Anderson shelters, with the result that none of the people residing in these specified areas have Anderson shelters or any kind of shelter at all. My constituency made 10,000 Anderson shelters for other people, and we have not any of our own. Almost every report about bombing given out by the B.B.C. has a sentence to say that the Anderson shelter has stood up well to the test. It is a pity that the Minister of Information cannot be present, as it might enable him to do his own job better if he were here. Often when I am at home, and I meet my friends and they turn on the wireless we hear that the Anderson shelter has stood up well, but my friends say, "We cannot get Anderson shelters." I know the difficulties, and that there are limits placed upon the steel that can be made available. Steel is essential for the production of Anderson shelters, and I understand that in the early stages of the production of Anderson shelters possibly a better class of steel was used than was required, but it has been put to me that, owing to the effort that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made when in his previous post, the response of the people of the country has been such that there is now available in the country numerous stocks of second and third-grade scrap, which, though it cannot be used in the production of steel for armaments, can be used in the production of steel for other purposes. I ask my right hon. Friend to investigate the possibilities of resuming the production of Anderson shelters, and not to deny the people who are suffering from bombing overnight.
Another point that I wish to make in connection with the shelter question is that the Home Office issued a circular, No. 163, to local authorities and unspecified areas urging them, in view of the fact that there were no Anderson shelters available, to adopt another plan. They said that technical help, labour, and costs would be given to householders who, first of all, had to choose the best room in the house in which to take refuge during raids. They said they would advise and assist the householder to strengthen and make safe the refuge room he had chosen. Therefore, the Home Office, in urging these local authorities to adopt that plan, accepted responsibility for carrying out that policy. What happened? Technical experts have been engaged on 500 advising people about making refuge rooms safe by such means as erecting a 14-inch wall to a height of 5 feet 6 inches in front of a window, yet when the local authority came to do the job they found that nothing was available. In most of the unspecified areas at this moment there is no shelter of any kind available in the house or near the house for over 80 per cent. of the people living in those areas. Communal shelters are now being built, but very slowly. I know that all this raises the problem of the supply of materials, and I want to say this in regard to priorities. My hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon), speaking yesterday, made a statement which the Parliamentary Secretary tried to repudiate but which I think he found was correct. We gathered that the Ministry of Home Security were not to be represented but merely called in occasionally in an advisory capacity on the Committee of Priorities.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
There is a Committee known as the Works and Buildings Committee which handles this particular priority, and on that Committee the Ministry of Home Security is definitely represented.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Then the failure to get materials with Which to carry out this policy is due to the failure of the Ministry of Home Security?
§ Mr. Griffiths
Then the failure to carry out this policy is due to the fact not that the Ministry of Home Security are not on the Committee, but that they have not been able to get sufficient to carry out their own policy. Please do not send circulars to local authorities if you know beforehand that they cannot carry out the plans outlined therein. If you know that a policy cannot be carried out, why send out a circular? Why ask us to urge local authorities to accept this because there are no Anderson shelters? This refuge-room policy is all right if attacks are occasional, but suppose we have a "Blitzkrieg," as we are getting in some cities now. I think one of the lessons to 501 be learnt by a layman coming to London is that the Government's plans went wrong in this way. Their experts said that the best way to defend the civilian population and reduce casualties owing to air bombardment was to disperse the population. In theory and on paper that is sound but what we have to realise is that in face of a situation of this kind men and women do not live by reason but by instinct, and their instinct in danger is to come together. Their instinct of fear is overcome by their instinct of gregariousness. We are fortunate in having men, particularly in the Royal Air Force, and women who can face danger easily and face it alone, but for the large mass of the people of the country someone to hold their hand is part of their defence. Therefore, we say that people will come together if only for that primeval reason.
Suppose the "Blitzkrieg" happens outside London. There may be technical reasons for not making provision for deep bomb-proof shelters in London, but these do not exist elsewhere. For instance, take my own area and most other areas in Wales. What you have to do to provide for people to come together is a very simple job, which does not cost a great deal of money. It is to reopen the old colliery levels. Within 100 yards of my house there are two. There are, tragically enough, large numbers of men eating out their hearts in idleness once more, and some of them have been going in to reopen these old levels. I have told them not to bother about consent, because we are at war, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look into this question. I would ask him to have a word with the Secretary for Mines, who is a practical miner and knows this job, and to urge the various local authorities to do this work. Many suggestions are being made that miners should be enrolled to come to London to deal with the problem of removing debris and assisting rescue squads.
None of us who are miners would ask every miner to come to a job of this kind. Please do not think that every unemployed miner is qualified to tackle it, but there are some classes of miners who are trained for the job. They are the rescue squads and repairing squads in the pits. I do not know how many of these skilled men are unemployed. My impression is that there is not a very large number, because they are very skilled 502 and they get jobs, but the possibility should be explored of getting some of them to come and assist the right hon. Gentleman. The skilled miner does not start at the top. He burrows in at the bottom. That is where the person to be rescued is. This is not a matter that the right hon. Gentleman can solve by asking the Minister of Labour how many unemployed miners there are. He may get the wrong type of men. The men you want are in the pits, and it is a question of releasing them from the pits. All associated with the industry would be prepared to release some of these very skilled men if the matter is approached in that way.
Now I should like to say a word about the unspecified areas. None of us can express in words the debt that we owe to the A.R.P. personnel. They thrill us with the fine courage that they show. In the unspecified areas the authorities are not entitled to employ or to pay any A.R.P. personnel. The wardens, decontamination squads, Auxiliary Fire Services, first-aid parties are all voluntary. Every warning is a call to these men to duty, and we have had them by the thousand spending the whole night on duty long before the bombing of London began. At half-past eight or nine they have to stand by for night work, following their ordinary pursuits in the daytime. We have made application times without number for these services to be extended and for the right to increase the number of personnel, but almost each time we have been turned down. The Carnarvonshire County Council appealed to the Minister of Home Security to allot them 15 extra first-aid parties, and the Minister of Health has granted us four. That is not treating the problem seriously. How did they arrive at the figure of four? The medical officer of health made up his mind that 15 was the minimum. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to deal with this problem in these areas. It is creating a very unfortunate impression. The Minister of Home Security does not treat these requests with courtesy but turns them down, and they should not be, turned down without the fullest investigation. If you get any request from South Wales, do not ask someone in Cardiff what he thinks about it, but make your own investigation. If there is to be a system of Regional Commissioners, give 503 them power and tell them what they have to do, and let them get on with it.
These areas, in addition to facing all these problems, are facing up very well on the whole to the problem of receiving children and their mothers from other areas. I have told my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell that it was appropriate that he should open the Debate, speaking for London, and that I, who represent the hosts and hostesses of Camberwell's children, should speak to-day. The problem of evacuation has been handicapped in many ways by the turn of events. For a long time nothing happened, and the children began to drift back. The reception areas were the first to be bombed, and the people in London, who had not had any bombing, read day after day that Wales had been bombed. Is there any reason now why, if a particular village or town in South Wales is bombed, we should tell people that South Wales is bombed? Think what it means to the parents. There are thousands of them who have never seen South Wales. The average Englishman's idea of South Wales is that it is five miles long and two miles wide. My colleagues and I have done and will do everything we can to help the evacuation scheme. South Wales is still a very much safer place than London, and it is better for these people to be scattered over the country than to be crowded in the great cities.
I want to put in a word or two, however, for the people at the other end, whose point of view has not always been expressed in the House, the people who have to do the job of receiving. In the main they are working-class people. Ask any local authority how many have gone to the big houses. They went there to begin with but they left very quickly. How many people in big houses have taken in children? I can speak in this matter with some personal experience. I know what relatives of my own have been doing, and for some reason or other I am more concerned about the responsibility of keeping somebody else's child out of danger than about my own. There are difficulties which have to be overcome, and I understand steps are being taken by the Minister responsible, to overcome them, but do let me urge upon him that there is a problem in the 504 reception areas, too. Do not let us talk about evacuation as though it were simply a problem of getting people out of London and putting them into these working-class homes. That is not the problem. In Wales, as elsewhere, there are still dozens of country mansions lying idle. Why not take them over?
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Home Security is undertaking a new job, and I make this suggestion to him. If the military see a place which they want, they take it. Why should the Ministry of Home Security in similar circumstances have to say, "Please can we have it?" If there are country mansions which can be used for this purpose, why not take them over? If there is a mansion in which, perhaps, only two or three people are living with a dozen servants, why not put them all out and take over that mansion for this purpose? A better use can be made of mansions nowadays than that of housing a couple of people with a number of servants, and if rich people are not prepared to pay that price in order to win the war, then they do not deserve to win it. I, therefore, urge the right hon. Gentleman to make no bones about it, but to take all the power that is necessary to utilise these big houses. You go to the wife of a collier who already has two children of her own and two children billeted on her and you ask her how many more children, say, from Camberwell she can undertake to look after. Is it any wonder that people say, "Look at the big house on the hill. They have not anybody in it." I understand that a new survey is being undertaken by the Minister of Health and I put it to him that he has no right to ask a poor working woman with two children of her own and two children billeted upon her and a husband to get out every morning and all the problems caused by air raids in the night hours—you have no right to ask such a woman to relieve the lady in the big house on the hill, who has nobody to look after but herself, of her responsibility in the matter. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Home Security will, for his part, do what is necessary to see that there is equality of sacrifice in this matter.
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a great deal of the difficulty to which he refers arises from the snobbery 505 and weakness of the local billeting officers who have not the courage to stand up against local grandees who refuse to take in any children?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I think that as a nation we shall have to choose between snobbery and winning the war. I agree that a great deal of it is due to that cause, but I am sure, as I say, that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Home Security will do his part to see that there is real democracy in this matter. I hope that these people will be told by whatever Ministry is concerned, if their houses are wanted and available, "We must have them." I believe that we are going to win this conflict. We are going to win it, in my view, because of the fortitude and courage of the common people. I hope that fortitude and courage will be well led and that the people who are showing those qualities will receive the protection which they have a right to demand. I hope that the nation will show itself deserving of the loyalty of the people both in London and the provinces. The Prime Minister the other day said that we would, some day, rebuild these old cities and rebuild them as more beautiful cities. We shall rebuild this Britain some day and make it a Britain more worthy of the fortitude and courage of its people.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I wish, in the first place, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) on the very able, interesting and sincere speech he has made on a subject of vital importance to the people of the country and indeed, to our war effort. May I thank him warmly for his kind personal references to myself, for his sympathy and good wishes, and for his very apt illustration of the situation in which I find myself, when he put it, in miners' language, that I had been allocated to "an abnormal place." I am very conscious of that fact. The Ministry of Supply was "an abnormal place" too, at any rate, at the time when I went there, and, frankly, I was anxious to go on with the work which I had got on top of there. But the call came and one must be a soldier nowadays and do what one is told. Certainly it is "an abnormal place" in which I am. It involves a difficult job, and presents a Minister with a wide variety of difficult administrative problems and also a wide variety of 506 human problems. I am sure that I shall have the good will and support of the House in undertaking this heavy and complicated task, and I tell the House and the country that I will do my very best and give every ounce of energy I have in order to achieve, if not complete success in dealing with these baffling problems—I do not believe anybody could do that—at any rate all the success of which I am humanly capable.
My hon. Friend has referred to a number of matters. He will appreciate the fact that I am in the disadvantageous position of having only occupied this "abnormal place" for a few days. Therefore, if I do not adequately cover every point he has made or if I fall by the wayside in dealing with some of the technicalities of specified and unspecified, of reception, neutral and vulnerable, areas I hope that both he and the House will forgive me. I will certainly look into this matter of the specification. There are, I gather, two groups of categories so to speak. There is the "specified" and "unspecified" grouping which has some relationship to A.R.P. personnel. I think the official distinction as to shelter accommodation has been dealt with by a recent circular. I am not going to say that the shelters are yet there, which is the important point, and I entirely agree that it is important to have complete fluidity of mind on these points. I think the House will agree that there is no point in having full-time A.R.P. personnel in areas which have not yet felt the blow to any material extent. This, however, is a changing situation and what is an area of good fortune to-day can be an area of consistently bad fortune the day after to-morrow. One must keep one's mind open and retain elasticity and adaptability to deal with the situation as one goes along. I agree with my hon. Friend on that point and will certainly keep it well in mind.
With regard to the Anderson shelters, they certainly seem to have come through the earlier critical Debates with something like flying colours. In this connection, may I say that the general organisation of the Civil Defence services of the country are, I think, on right principles and right lines and my predecessor is entitled to a very great deal of credit for the soundness of the structure which he laid down, where it has been no more severely tested than it has been. For example, in this city 507 and in the City of Liverpool it has stood up as a piece of administrative organisation, to a very great strain and my right hon. Friend is entitled to a high degree of credit for the effectiveness with which he developed that organisation, quite apart from the fact, which everybody now admits, in spite of earlier controversies, that the Anderson shelter has stood up remarkably well to the test. I will certainy seek, with every insistence of which I am capable, adequate steel supplies for the additional provision of Anderson shelters; I may say that some have already gone to certain towns in South Wales and a number, I admit a limited number, have gone to other areas in South Wales. Steel is a problem and I will look into the suggestion of my hon. Friend about using what I may call secondary steel, from the dumps and from any other sources of supply where I can get it.
I fully appreciate that it would be quite wrong to ignore the needs of the Provinces or Wales and Scotland in all these matters. I had perhaps better give an assurance to hon. Members from constituencies outside the London Region that, although it is the case that, on my appointment, the Press did feature my London experience, which is always a matter I will not say of suspicion to hon. Members from other places but perhaps of a little apprehension, I fully realise that in this task I am the servant of the whole House, a Minister discharging responsibilities over the whole of Great Britain, and I will certainly not forget the needs of and my responsibilities towards every part of the country.
§ Mr. Morrison
I did include Scotland. I have travelled very well over the country spreading the gospel, and I know Scotland well. The question of priorities is, of course, one with which I am very familiar. It affects steel, cement, and bricks. The procedure is perfectly clear. There are inter-departmental organisations in which claims and arguments go on, and they are difficult claims and difficult arguments. Cement, bricks, steel, alloys, and other things are needed for aircraft, for anti-aircraft, for munitions of war, for the Navy, for Civil Defence; and there are shortages in certain directions, 508 although not so bad by any means as the enemy would like. Therefore, there must be argument, and there is argument, sometimes fierce argument, for these supplies; and somebody must make a balance between the needs of aircraft, for example, which it must not be forgotten are actively fighting the enemy and without which our casualties would be much greater than they are; the needs of antiaircraft, which is also fighting the enemy, and without which, again, we should be in a much weaker position and there would be more casualties; and the needs for Civil Defence which are exceedingly important and exceedingly great. After inter-departmental discussion agreement is usually reached. The chairman of one committee is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft Production; he does not function as a departmental representative, but as an impartial chairman. The chairman of the Works and Buildings Committee is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, but not in that capacity. In the end, they make the decision. An appeal can be made to the chairman of the Production Council. As long as there are various Departments claiming in the matter, there must be inter-departmental consultation and in the end arbitration, but I know the machine inside out from my time at the Ministry of Supply, where most of it lives, and I will utilise all my knowledge to exploit it to the fullest degree, and if it is a question of fighting, I will be there.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
With regard to cement, will my right hon. Friend ask for an inquiry to be made as to whether the cement which is being poured into the Army is all used or left to spoil?
§ Mr. Morrison
I know all about that. I cannot say too much about it, because another Ministry is involved. I will also keep that in mind in the course of my arguments. I may say that shortly before I left the Ministry of Supply I had decided that cement and bricks could not be left out of the field of official control. There was a sort of unofficial control that worked reasonably well, but really was not good enough in these critical times. I had, therefore, decided to establish an effective official control of cement and bricks and to take steps to stimulate additional production, in co-operation with the Parliamentary Secretary to the 509 Ministry of Labour and the chairman of the Production Council; and I understand that my successor the present Minister of Supply approves this and that accordingly steps will be taken to establish an official control of cement, bricks and possibly one or two other things, so that supplies can be controlled at the source, prices controlled, and the whole thing put under effective control as a raw material, as is done with other raw materials.
I have noted what my hon. Friend said with regard to particular types of miners who might be helpful to us in rescue and demolition parties; certainly, I will look into that matter, and I thank him for the suggestion. With regard to voluntary personnel we have tried to ea se the situation by suggesting their serving in rotas during the "red" period and the "yellow" period and having free periods, but it is quite true that it is entirely a question of the degree of strain. What I will do is to watch this, matter carefully. As to big houses, certainly I shall have no scruples in this matter. There are one or two difficulties. Sometimes they are earmarked for military purposes—and the soldiers must be somewhere—and often they are earmarked for emergency hospitals. There are rival claims for them, but on the point whether I will let them off because they belong to particular people, certainly that will not be the case, even though officially the matter is in the hands of the local authorities themselves who have powers to take these properties. I will keep this point in mind.
A point has been made both by my hon. Friend and, yesterday, by the right hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) whether a re-organisation of State Departments should take place on two bases. One is that the Home Office should be cut away from the Ministry of Home Security, and the other is that what one may call in the broadest sense the Civil Defence functions of other State Departments—the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport, the Board of Education and presumably the Ministry of Food—should in some way be consolidated under the direct executive responsibility of the Minister of Home Security, so that, on the one hand, the Home Office would be cut off from, and on the other hand, portions 510 of these other State Departments would come into, the Ministry of Home Security. I fully understand the reasons which actuated hon. Members in making those suggestions, but I am bound to say that I think there is misapprehension about these points. I fully appreciate that the responsibilities of the Ministry of Home Security and the Home Office are very considerable. That does not frighten me, but it is always a point for a Minister to consider whether he is carrying more than he can effectively discharge. Of course, quite apart from general responsibility for the regional organisation, which is now such an important element in our scheme of Civil Defence and indeed of Government, my Department has particular responsibilities for the provision of shelters— public, domestic and in industrial and commercial buildings—for the organisation and equipment and operation of the Civil Defence services, for the black-out and emergency lighting, for the warning system, for industrial camouflage, and for many other matters important in themselves but small by comparison with the major responsibilities I have mentioned. To these, of course, are added the responsibilities of the Home Office—the responsibilities of the Secretary of State—although in that respect that Department has been for the time being somewhat relieved by the transfer of the Factory Acts administration to the Ministry of Labour. That was an important block of administration. On that side, the Home Office side, I have the valuable aid and assistance of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State who takes a good deal of the work off my shoulders.
With regard to the Ministry of Home Security, it is not surprising that much detailed work and considerable responsibility should devolve on the Parliamentary Secretary, and I have received, and my predecessor has received, great assistance from my hon. Friend who for some time has held that office. He is a foolish Minister who does not use his Parliamentary Secretaries, and I shall give them definite and special responsibility and delegate to them certain authority so that the burden can be spread. The present Parliamentary Secretary has been hard pressed, and I know that he, no less than I, welcomes the appointment of an additional Parliamentary Secretary. It is an advantage that that additional Parliamentary Secretary should be a woman to 511 whom can be devolved without prejudice to my final responsibility, the detailed, urgent and extensive work in connection with shelters of all kinds, leaving my hon. Friend free for other matters equally pressing and extensive. And so there is considerable assistance, subject to my keeping my hand on all matters of general policy and principle and being responsible for the administration.
That is the general organisation of the Department, Ministerially. Now I come to the suggestions which have been made in regard to re-organisation, and this is something which, if I may say so, is not as easy as it appears at first sight. The Home Office includes jurisdiction over the police, and it is rather poetic that the son of a London police constable should now be the Minister responsible for the Metropolitan Police, and in some degree for the police forces of the whole country. The police are intimately involved in the whole business of Civil Defence. You cannot divide the policeman in Llanelly, Cardiff, Liverpool and Glasgow; at one time he may be looking out for criminals and road offences on the one hand; at another he may be wanted on Civil Defence duty. The police are all intimately concerned, and increasingly concerned, with the general Civil Defence services of the country. We have all rightly praised the Civil Defence workers, both men and women, but here may I say that the police have also stood up to the test splendidly. The Metropolitan Police under the great strain they have suffered have done a fine job of work and have been brave and heroic in the discharge of their tasks. And so I do not think it can be done.
I think the House will agree that there is an even more extreme case in regard to the Fire Brigade which has been supervised for some time by the Home Office. There are still fires that have nothing to do with enemy action, and you would either have to take the whole of the Fire Brigade into the Ministry of Home Security or distinguish between the common or garden fire and fires caused by the enemy. That is the Home Office side, but it must be remembered also that Home Security in its proper meaning goes beyond Civil Defence. There are more funny elements of Home Security, but they are not unrelated to Home 512 Security. Indeed the Home Office in peace-time was always a Ministry of Home Security. Therefore, while it is true that you could cut certain things off, by the time you had done it it would not be worth while, and instead of having a better situation you would find it worse. The police deal with aliens, a matter which we are not dealing with to-day, and I am not asking for any trouble in that direction. That is an element of security. You could cut it off, but when is a policeman looking for an alien and when is he looking after Civil Defence? I do not think it would work out in that way.
Another sugestion is that the Civil Defence functions of the Ministry of Health, the Board of Education and the Ministry of Transport, and possibly the Ministry of Food, should be transferred and come completely under the charge of a Minister for Civil Defence. On the face of it there is a great attraction in that suggestion, just as there is in the suggestion that one man should be a dictator for London. Some newspapers have put forward that suggestion and have suggested that I should be the one man. It is much easier to talk about dictators than it is for a dictator to do the job. No one man could run this city with all its diversities—not even that man. He could not do it. Unless he worked through a whole series of channels of administration, he would become blocked with too much to do. If it was put on his shoulders, red tape and delays in decisions would be greatly increased. No one could do the job unless he delegated authority and was ready to make persons to whom he had delegated authority responsible to him and fired them if they did not do their job. This popular idea that you can have a one-man dictator to run this region of 10,000,000 people is one of those things which makes a nice headline, but from the point of view of practical administration it really is childish and poetic, and it would not work.
Take the Ministry of Health, which has certain health functions in regard to shelters and in regard to housing. If you try to separate these two functions, you will get two health machines working on two jobs with a lack of general direction. In fact, in the search for co-ordination you might well produce "dis-co-ordination" in the health and housing services of the country. Another way would be 513 to leave the Department there, but to have two Ministers running it, one on the Civil Defence side, and one for the other side. I have never believed in two Ministers running one Department; I do not think it would be wise. An extreme case is that of the Ministry of Transport. You cannot disentangle transport problems, and I think the House would agree that it would be unwise to do so. With the Board of Education similar considerations arise, and also in connection with the Ministry of Food.
Therefore the practice is that with myself in the chair there are regular and frequent meetings of all the Ministers concerned, where we exchange experiences and reach agreement and decisions. Weekly there are fuller meetings of Ministers, including those who are indirectly concerned. I am afraid that this is a process of co-ordination, which I once repudiated and condemned—I still do as a general mechanism of government—but, on the other hand, you cannot put everything into one Department and under one Minister. I do not believe it would be effective. You must have machinery for consultation and decision. I prefer to use those words instead of coordination, which I still strongly condemn as a machinery of government. I hope I have convinced the House that the thing is not as simple as one would have thought at first sight.
The "Blitzkrieg" has come all over the country, and some places have suffered worse than others. We have got what we expected. I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Key) on his contribution to the Debate yesterday. His speech was full of good sense, and he has had very great experience in one of the most vulnerable areas in London. I think he would agree with me that when he and I were working together in preparation for the Civil Defence organisation in earlier times we expected that it would be even worse than it has been. Therefore, we are not going through an experience that we did not anticipate; we have got to the point that we did anticipate, except perhaps that it is not quite so bad. The fact that it is not as bad as it might have been is a fact for which we have a right and duty to be truly grateful to those fine men of the Royal Air Force and the fine men of the Army who are operating the anti-aircraft guns 514 every night. There are people who, now that it has come, are perhaps rather indicating that their imagination as to what the situation would be was somewhat limited.
I entirely agree with what Sir Walter Citrine said to the Trades Union Congress yesterday; they were courageous and frank words and I think they were right. That is, that "if complete immunity was sought, the wisest course for us was to sue for peace now. That is the brutal fact." This is a horrible experience, and the man who is responsible for bringing this curse on our country and other curses on Europe has brought great horrors to us, to our people and to Europe. We knew, however, what we were facing when we went into this war. We knew all its possibilities. We are experiencing now as civilians what the soldiers, after all, experienced in the last war, when the civilians cheered them on and praised them, and so on. That experience has come to us, and the choice, horrible as it is, is that we either go through with it or surrender. We are not going to surrender because surrender would mean for many years something much more terrible than the experience through which we are now going.
There is a great importance in all these matters not only in the effectiveness of the actions of Ministers and local authorities, but in self-reliance, individual initiative, co-operation and good conduct among the individual citizens themselves —and we must encourage it. In my own experience so far there has been a large degree of individual initiative, self-help and ready co-operation among the ordinary people who have been involved in this business. They need leadership and local people to take responsibility, to give advice and so on, but let none of us do anything that weakens the instinct of the people to help themselves and to adapt themselves to new situations. There is just a little danger of this matter being handled in such a way that the people will not be encouraged to feel that there is any responsibility upon them but only upon public authority, national or local. Public authority must take its responsibility, and it must be criticised if it does not discharge it, but I beg everybody not to discourage in the individual the feeling that he must do all he can to help himself, for thereby he is helping the community and the nation.
515 There is a desire of the people to come together—and we all understand it—and to be together in great masses in big communal shelters. Do not let us discourage the idea of the dispersal of families in their own shelters and in the surface shelters, as to which there is conflict of view and practice. It is a little worrying sometimes to know the numbers of people who go in one shelter. I think that perhaps sometimes there is a little too much publicity and close identification about that. We ought not to discourage the family shelter and the street communal shelter, organised if possible on a domestic basis, because the more dispersal there is the better it will be. All shelter is good, whatever it is, if it provides some protection. The individual shelter, the street shelter, basements and tubes must all play their part and we ought to have no prejudice about them. I only make the point that there is a little tendency to forsake the Anderson shelter for the sake of company and a little tendency to forsake the street shelter because now and again one gets a direct hit. Still more terrible things might happen if some other things got direct hits. Do not let us encourage the idea that there is safety in great numbers. There is greater safety in dispersal in reasonably good conditions.
We must, therefore, beware of boosting too much particular forms of shelter but must encourage variety wherever there is reasonable effectiveness. Moreover, people in the shelters, communal or otherwise, must have reasonable quiet; they must not be disturbed too much. They ought to have the opportunity of going to sleep reasonably early—that really is vitally important. I sometimes wonder whether visits in the night are not a little too frequent from that point of view. The Parliamentary Secretary said yesterday that they were something like eve-of-poll meetings. That is all right to start off with, and it is right that people should go and see the shelters, but I do not want them to go on being like eve-of-poll meetings every night because people have to get to sleep and be able to wake up in the morning, not as fresh as they would like to be, but with the feeling that they really have had some sleep.
I ought to tell the House of the action that has been taken, for which my predecessor is necessarily largely responsible, 516 with regard to shelters since the "Blitzkrieg" started. The position was that the local authorities could not, except by the procedure of requisitioning, take basement shelters. Powers have now been given to the local authorities to take over additional accommodation without requisitioning the whole building which they do not want. They can now require any suitable premises to be made available as shelter for the public, and that covers existing basements not already used. There is a fair amount of basement shelter now available in the City of London. It is next door to Stepney and Finsbury. I hope to get some more, and I am after it, but Stepney and Finsbury have to be encouraged to use it. Some of it is not being used.
§ Mr. Woods (Finsbury)
I would appeal to the Minister not to take on all basements for shelters. Our experience is that some basements are shelters but that others are death traps.
§ Miss Rathbone
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some cases the feeling of the local authorities is that if they provide for their own people it is sufficient, and they object to people coming across the river, say, from Lambeth to Westminster. Therefore they do not get on with the job of utilising shelter under business offices.
§ Sir Harold Webbe (Westminster, Abbey)
May I draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that in Westminster a large amount of available shelter is in buildings occupied by Government offices, and that the amount of that available is being curtailed by the Government?
§ Mr. Morrison
I will try to remember those points. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Woods) that one must not make sweeping generalisations about basements, because some are not suitable. Moreover, there will be a competitive factor, because the staffs working in the buildings may wish to sleep there at night, and, indeed, we may wish them to sleep there, because otherwise business may not go on. The hon. Lady mentioned the point about people from other areas not being wanted. I am glad to hear that there is a certain amount of civic patriotism still in London. There is something in her point, but we 517 cannot pay too much regard to it. Westminster must be taking a very large number of people from outside, and so must the City of London, and the Borough of Southwark have taken heaven knows how many people from outside into that famous refuge of theirs. That must be so; we cannot bother about local boundaries in this matter; but there is something in what the hon. Lady said. There is also this other point, that I have heard that some of the people in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) do not want to go to the other side of the river if trey can help it. They prefer Lambeth, surprising as that may be to the hon. Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe), to getting mixed up with the people of Westminster next door.
With regard to Government offices, it was a point to make, but this must be remembered, that Government offices are Government offices and have great responsibilities to discharge. In some of them there is a good deal of information and equipment that we ought not to run the risk of being interfered with. One cannot contemplate too freely taking very large numbers of people into Government offices, because they might be the subject of dangerous activities from other quarters if one were not careful. However, all these points will be kept in mind. The new Regulation, which does apply to the whole country, and was made by my predecessor, gives power to local authorities over existing basements which are not already being used, over shelters for the employés of industrial or commercial firms at times when they are not needed by the employés of those firms, and the basements of any houses, including those divided up into separate tenements.
§ Mr. J. J. Davidson (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I should like to ask a question on that point, because we have had difficulties in Glasgow. Is there any right of appeal against the decision of the local authority?
§ Mr. Morrison
No, there is no right of appeal, but the general principle upon which they act must have the approval of the Minister, and that approval has been delegated to the Regional Commissioner on the spot. There is one other point in this connection, and I hope I shall have the House with me 518 in what I am saying. It may be that a local authority is not active enough in exercising these powers. Not all troubles in this matter arise from the central Government. There are some local authorities which in the past have made me a bit tired—and they do not all belong to one party. I have told them, and they were told by others a long time ago, to get ready for the situation and to act with vigour. I have to contemplate the possibility that although I have given powers to local authorities to take basements, some will not take them or will not take enough. Therefore, I have under consideration getting power for myself, which would be exercised through a Regional Commissioner to step in side by side with the local authorities and say, "Either you take that basement, or I take it." I am a great respecter of local government, I have been nurtured in it, and I have fought for its rights against Ministers, but we are in a situation now where, if a local authority will not or cannot—and sometimes it cannot—do its job then Ministers must have the authority, and must be willing, to step in over the heads of the local authorities and see that it is done.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
Has the hon. and learned Member for North Croydon (Mr. Willink), who is a Commissioner, got powers at present for dealing with local authorities?
§ Mr. Morrison
I could not say off-hand, but at any rate the matter with which I am dealing is not one with which he is concerned.
§ Mr. James Hall (Whitechapel)
Does the Minister know that in many cases it is quite impossible for local authorities to get information from commercial houses as to what use they are making of their shelter accommodation at night?
§ Mr. Morrison
I really do not see why they should not get the information. They have got these powers. They must get it.
§ Mr. Morrison
I think so, but if they cannot get the information and they go to the Regional Commissioner he will help.
§ Mr. Buchanan
In Glasgow your regional man is only a part-time official. He is doing other work. In a city like Glasgow, where there are a million and a quarter people, it ought not to be left to a part-time official to do jobs like this.
§ Mr. Morrison
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary tells me that the Glasgow authority is in fact doing it.
§ Mr. Morrison
Having said what I have said, I would add that the great bulk, the overwhelming mass, of local authorities have stood up manfully and capably to a very difficult job. It is only here and there that difficulties arise. Taking the authorities by and large, they have done a splendid job of work, and have demonstrated the great ability and efficiency of local government officials. It is only in a small minority of cases where the work is not being done. The House may be sure that I shall be ready to see that somebody steps in to get it done, and I feel that in such action the House will give me their support.
With regard to the provision of bunks for shelters a design has been agreed upon with the furnishing and joinery trades, and contracts for bunks for 750,000 people have already been placed and more orders are being given. We expect deliveries to begin at the end of next week. Supplies of timber, wire netting and hessian have been made available for those who are making the bunks. A design for steel bunks is on the point of being settled. Some of the London authorities are proceeding with the provision of bunks. All the steps we have taken, all the information which we have acquired in dealing with the critical situation in London, is being communicated to all local authorities throughout the country, any of whom may be in a similar position at some time, as indeed Liverpool now is. Local authorities have been told to give urgent attention to the sanitary arrangements in shelters, and have been instructed to obtain at once the necessary 520 chemical closets, on the cost of which they will get assistance from the Government. They have also been told to arrange for the daily emptying of the closets and the cleansing of shelters, and the cost of any additional staff required will be met by the State. Medical officers of health have been instructed by the Minister of Health to pay urgent attention to the inspection of shelters. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, after consultation with the former Minister of Home Security, asked Lord Horder and a Committee to look into these health questions. That Committee has reported and its recommendations are actively under consideration. There is a recommendation that simple first-aid equipment should be available in all shelters.
§ Mr. Naylor (Southwark, South East)
Has the question of the drainage of surface shelters been considered? In the recent rains those shelters have become very damp, and in most of them there is no provision for draining off the rain water.
§ Mr. Morrison
There is a point there for consideration. It is related to the heating of the shelters, which has been a matter of some difficulty. I will see to it that the point made by my hon. Friend is considered in connection with the whole problem of surface shelters. There was a decision at the beginning of the war that the tube railways should not be used as air-raid shelters. It was understandable, because everybody will, I think, agree that, whatever we do, the tube railways must run in order that people can get to their work and, indeed, to and from more distant shelter, which is vitally important. The conclusion was reached—and I cordially agree with it, and will further it—that the tubes should be used fully, up to the extent that that does not actually impede traffic. Indeed, I gave a decision last Saturday morning that some additional tube provision in the East End of London should be opened to the public. After that, I hope nobody will say that I am prejudiced against deep shelters, because that was quite deep. Again, we have made provision for chemical closets and for their removal. I should like here to thank the authorities of the London Passenger Transport Board for their ready co-operation in what is a difficult situation for them. There is an 521 additional difficulty, which will arise as the nights lengthen at both ends. We are now looking into that problem. The whole tube position is being surveyed, in order that we may get the best out of them.
Improvements have been made in the supervision of communal shelters, and shelter wardens have been authorised, on an appropriate basis, so that we can have people there who will be helpful and, if necessary, will maintain order. An instruction has been issued to all the provincial Regions informing them of the new regulation and of what is being done generally, in the light of the London experience. In certain cases, provincial Commissioners have already authorised local authorities to proceed with bunks of such material as they can get. There is the problem of the possible flooding of Anderson shelters, certainly in the winter. Appropriate advice, the best we can give, has been issued to local authorities, in order that they may pass it on to individual householders. I have told the House about cement. The only other point is that we are evolving a code of behaviour for people in the shelters, in order that good conduct, good fellowship and mutual helpfulness may be encouraged. I may issue a personal message on that matter myself.
Now let me deal with the steps which have been taken about basements, in the new circumstances. My own first action since taking office, apart from declaring open of the tube provision to which I referred, has been aimed at doing, as I said in the House the other day, in answer to a Question, first things first. I have given instructions that there shall be rapidly accelerated action with regard to the provision of suitable basement shelter, wherever it may be available. That is why I want these additional powers to be fully used. A good deal of basement shelter may be available, and we must get it. It may be that money has to be spent upon it to strengthen and improve it, and if so we must spend that money, and it must be found. This matter is going ahead. We are taking action upon an immediate and vigorous scale. If hon. Members know of basements which they think are worthy of consideration perhaps they will let me know, and I will have them looked at straight away.
I am not relying on that. I have given orders that the necessary survey must 522 be made forthwith. It must be done, and we must be ready to use the basements. To that extent I am very anxious to get the good will of hon. Members to encourage people in congested and bigger shelters to be willing to transfer themselves to the new provision which is to be found. I am sure that it will-Fe conducive to safety and helpful in a number of directions. We must encourage people away from certain of the bigger shelters into the somewhat smaller basement shelters, that are quite as good as, and are often better than, those where they now are. We shall accelerate to the fullest extent to which I can lay my hands, by fair or other means, the provision of materials for additional shelter construction. It is a great pity that these things were not done before by many authorities locally which could have done them. We shall go ahead with them as rapidly as we possibly can. I am hoping to get additional powers whereby Commissioners can act in certain matters where it is desirable, in the interests of speed and efficiency, that those things should be done. It may be necessary to deal with certain other matters in relation to local authority structure and powers, and this matter will be kept in mind.
Now I want to say a word about deep shelter. The House will appreciate from what I have said that I am not prejudiced against deep shelter. I have taken steps to utilise all the deep shelter that may be available, but there are people about who have views on this matter. Arguments did proceed in the House, in which I and other hon. Members took our part, well before the war began. Here we are, in a situation where the enemy is active. Whatever may be said about deep shelter, I think everybody will agree that it cannot be regarded as an immediate and complete remedy for this situation. The time factor would. inevitably be long. The possibility of providing deep shelter for the whole of the people of a great city like Liverpool, Glasgow or Greater London is very doubtful, and certainly impossible within any limitation of time. You might have a great deal of competition for the deep shelter—you have some of it now—and some difficulty with the people who did not get it.
Therefore the people who are demanding this provision do so sometimes for mischievous political reasons. Sometimes 523 complaints are made by people who are not anxious to help the country in its war effort, and they are made in ways which are almost, as near as may be, "Fifth column" in effect; I am not sure that they are not "Fifth column" in intention. To spread the idea that all that has to be done is for the Government to wave a wand and deep shelter will be there for everybody, is foolish. It is a wicked idea to put into the minds of the general population, and some of those who are doing it know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. They are serving the welfare of their country not at all and, indeed, are liable to be helping the enemy. On the other hand, so far as deep shelter can be provided, or shelter that might not be deep but which is noiseless—which has quite a lot to do with it—it shall be done. I have slept in noiseless places. I slept under the guns at Hampstead. It is curious how one can sleep while the guns are firing. Soldiers can do it. We can do it when we get accustomed to it, and soldiers should say this to the people.
§ Mr. Morrison
I note that my hon. Friend has got to that point. I hope that the feeling will not be general and survive, so that people will want the war to go on after we have won it. It reminds me of a trade union official I knew, who complained, after a railway strike, that he had become so accustomed to sleeping while trains were passing the end of his garden that he could not sleep when the trains stopped. It is a matter of custom and of getting used to things. I perfectly understand, and it may be that, failing deep shelter, some other shelter may be worth consideration, although it is not as deep as it ought to be, and not deep in the sense of being safe from a direct hit. Nevertheless, it would keep out noise, and that would be worth consideration. I tell the House that I have an absolutely unprejudiced mind on the point.
Let me add on this point that I will take any shelter which is reasonably safe for its purpose, whether it is deep shelter or not so deep, and I will consider it with very great care and a perfectly free mind. My hon. Friends who are miners 524 will know that soil and earth are funny things and that it is not always simple to dig down into it—not so simple as may appear at first sight. Active defence will improve. It has certainly been wonderful so far in this war, but improvements and developments are under consideration. Active offence also will improve. The Nazis are going to be kept busy and will have plenty of troubles added to those which they have at the present time. This is not a complete and final statement of Ministerial policy. It could not be in the circumstances, as this Debate has come so soon. No doubt, other opportunities for informing the House of developments will arise. I cannot promise an easy life for everybody. War is not a comfortable business, and we civilians are now experiencing what war is actually like. We cannot expect a comfortable life; none of us is getting it, and we shall not get it. What I do promise the House and the country is that I will do everything I can to limit the trials and sufferings through which the people in all parts of the country are going, and I will do everything I can to help them and to make life easier than otherwise it might have been.
I would like to pay my tribute to the people. I have been round areas which have been badly hurt. In my previous office I went to factories which had been badly hit, sometimes in circumstances in which even the warnings had not been sounded. Let me say that the women of this country are a fine lot, both in the factories and elsewhere. I admire the people in the factories and in the homes —people who have had their troubles—for the fact that they can still keep their spirits up. I have heard of two old men who were trying to drag their wives into shelter when the enemy was above, and they said, "We are not going to run away," and shook their hands and defied the enemy. I am not sure that that is a wise thing to do when the enemy is so close, but that is what they did. The Civil Defence personnel and the police have stood up splendidly. Some, people were rather scornful of these Civil Defence men at the beginning of the war and thought that they were taking easy money; I am glad that I was not among those people. The battle goes on. Our people are standing up. The machine has stood the test. There have been mistakes, but we have 525 learned from them. We must go on aiming, not at perfection—that cannot be—but at making this organisation as human, efficient and understanding as it can be, realising that it is now perhaps among the most vital of the defences of the country, and that upon its standing up to this great test must depend to no small extent whether we are to remain free men and women or whether we are to go to a purgatory of slavery infinitely worse than the troubles which are now upon us.
§ Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)
As a somewhat old Member of Parliament in length of service let me say to the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down how well he has adapted himself to doing what all other Cabinet Ministers have done in the past—complimenting their predecessors. He did it skilfully and well. It seems to be a characteristic of this country that a man can do his work better than his predecessor and yet thank him for what he has done in the past. I wish the new Parliamentary Secretary well. I say this as one who has never been gifted with the accomplishment of agreeing with her; I trust that she will succeed in office. She has now been given a task of immense responsibility, calling for great power, energy and courage. I trust that my relationship with her will be happier than possibly it has been when she was at the Ministry of Pensions.
I wish to make one or two references to my native City of Glasgow. I recognise that the new Minister of Home Security cannot make war safe, that there are terrible risks to be run day in and day out. I also recognise that London, no matter what may be said, is carrying by far the major burden at the present time. I think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that we ought to learn and see that the things which have happened here do not happen in other parts. I am terribly alarmed at the position in Glasgow. I have not taken part in many of these Debates, because my views on the war do not run on the same lines as those of other hon. Members, and I have taken the view, rightly or wrongly, that even if I do not do the things that others do, I should not join in activities which hamper others from doing what they regard as their duty. Consequently, I have not been involved in these matters, but I have been worried about the posi- 526 tion of my native city, when one considers that Glasgow is more thickly populated than London. I remember discussing the Scottish Housing Bill upstairs, and I was told that Shoreditch was the most thickly populated part in London and that Shoreditch was better than the best part in Glasgow. I was amazed at some of the facts which were brought out, and I have been terribly worried.
Incidentally, I think the Home Secretary will have to find a new name for one of his Under-Secretaries; we cannot call them both Under-Secretaries. The right hon. Gentleman is an adept at phrases. The hon. Gentleman who held the position before the new appointment was made once visited Glasgow. I do not know what he did in Glasgow. All I can say is that his visits were kept very secret as far as those in Glasgow were concerned. Some of us have considerable local authority experience, and some of us are not altogether fools. I think we might have been asked in some way or other—
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security (Mr. Mabane)
May I say that I was very pressed at the time? I did a tour of 1,100 miles in four days. I went to Glasgow to communicate to them the main outline of the shelter policy, and I believe I succeeded on the lines which the hon. Gentleman would desire.
§ Mr. Buchanan
There was a number of points which the hon. Gentleman might have tried to cover. I am worried about the position of my native city. As I see it, the position in Glasgow is different from that in other cities, because three-quarters of our population live in tenements, packed together, and there are great works of national importance running into the heart of the tenement areas. We have in Glasgow a subway—what we call the "Underground." One of the distressing things in Glasgow has been a constant quarrel which has been going on in the newspapers. The local authority have been blaming the Home Office, saying that the Home Office have kept them back by refusing to pay. The Home Office have been blaming the local authority. I do not know which is to blame; all I know is that the shelters have not been provided as they are required. The controversy in the Press as to whether the Home Office or the local authority are to 527 blame is most unedifying, considering the dangers which the people are facing. I trust that the new Home Secretary will stop this unpleasant quarrel, and that the question of utilising our subway—our miniature Underground—for shelter purposes will be settled. Do not let us have a controversy about whether it is deep enough, or things like that. Let the Home Office send people down to settle the question at once; and if it is not a suitable place, let the population know.
I agree that you cannot build brick shelters for everybody, but it is no use building surface shelters if people will not go into them. I do not know London as well as do some other Members, but I have lived here for 20 years. Last night I was in surface shelters around St. Pancras, and I found them empty. I went into about 20 shelters, and I was amazed at the small number of people I found in them. Yet I went into the tube, and found it packed, because it was beneath the surface. I do not say that these surface shelters are no good. I am not an expert, and I am prepared to believe the people who understand the question. But the fact is that people are not going into these shelters. I was amazed to find people standing in queues to get into the trench shelters at Clapham Common, because they were below ground; yet nobody was going into those shelters which were above ground.
Surely in our public parks in Glasgow trench shelters could be built. They are quite simply constructed. What has shocked me is the fact that the mining population in Scotland is suffering from unemployment and short time. I do not say that all unemployed men are useful economically for digging, but surely most of them could lift something with a shovel, and it would be better for them to do that than to do nothing. It seems a terrible thing that there are in Glasgow tens of thousands of unemployed men—not lazy men, but men who are pestering people for jobs—when this work requires to be done. Sometimes one feels that Government Departments do not want to give the men work. We have an ordnance factory near Glasgow, and they do not take men who are below a certain height. Men who fought in the last war 528 say to me, "We were not too small then, but evidently we are too small now." In these days we can do wonderful things. Here are shelters needed, and here are human beings requiring work. Is it too difficult to relate the two factors? The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) has gone, but I must say that I am very worried about the delay which has occurred in replying to letters. I have conducted correspondence with all Departments, and the Home Office is easily the most remiss.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I do not know; I have seen so many of the "wise guys" going into new offices, with great praise, and after a month or so we have wondered why the changes were made. I do not expect replies quite so quickly now as in pre-war days; but if one clogs the Order Paper with Questions, one gets answers, yet if one adopts the attitude that one will not make Ministers' lives a burden—which is the attitude I take—one gets no answer to one's letters. I wrote to the hon. Member for Huddersfield over a month ago about something in my division, and I have had no reply. I spoke to the man in the gallery about it, and have had no reply yet. The Home Secretary should see that in future we get replies. My last word is this: We have a population in Glasgow crowded together, and the present shelters are a disgrace from the point of view of sanitation. Surface shelters have no doors, no seats, no lavatories.
§ Mr. Buchanan
That is so Even where there are roofs, the rain comes in. Who will use those shelters? It is only offering a choice between being killed by bombs or killed by disease. I ask the Home Secretary and the new Parliamentary Secretary to tackle this question while they have time, because I am afraid that if they fail to do it now, they will miss the chance of doing something useful.
§ Major Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
As this is the first time that I have had the honour to address the House, I am 529 sure that I shall be able to ask for the usual indulgence and consideration of Members to a Member making his maiden speech. I listened with the deepest interest to the Debate of yesterday, as, indeed, it was the duty of all Members for constituencies outside of London to do, for it is of the utmost importance that all of us should "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the lessons and experiences of London. I wish the local authorities all over the country would also take every opportunity to "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the experiences of London.
I listened to the Debate yesterday, and indeed, throughout the Debate to-day, and there is one remarkable fact which I have noted—how very little has been said about the grave danger to the health of the community from the existing state of affairs, and the still graver danger that will face us as winter comes along. We have heard much in the Debate about the natural instinct of humanity, which we call the herd instinct, that in danger we like, as so many of us do, to be together in as large a company as possible. None of us can help sympathising with that instinct, which is common to our human nature, but it has its dangers, grave dangers, because, as the winter approaches—and indeed we are already experiencing it here in London—large gatherings of people are spending long hours in very close proximity to each other, not always in a very healthy atmosphere, sometimes in a very fuggy atmosphere, which to some extent brings greater dangers. Some people like the fug, but it has its dangers from infection.
I am surprised that we have not seen in the public Press, and still more surprised that we have not heard more in this Debate to-day and yesterday, of the danger from infection which we have to face from the very close proximity of large numbers of people in our public shelters—the danger from not only infection but also, in many cases, from cods, influenza, pneumonia, and the danger, of course, of those who are close together breathing each other's breath, side by side and in large numbers, from such dangerous infectious diseases as meningitis and encephalitis lethargica. The authorities cannot pay too much attention to this vitally important question. I venture to suggest that before the war is over—at any rate before the 530 air "Blitzkrieg" upon Britain is over—there will be more deaths in this way from illnesses and from infectious diseases than there will be from Hitler's bombs. It is quite as important that the authorities should look into this most vital matter as it is that they should consider the whole question of the security of our people from bombing—even more so, in my judgment. If my small effort of a maiden speech has done nothing else, if I can feel that it has, as so few others have done in this Debate, drawn the attention of the Governent and those primarily concerned to this vital question of the danger to the health of the community, especially during the winter months, then indeed I shall not have made my small and humble contribution in vain.
But I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), want to turn the attention of the House to the condition of affairs in the part of the country where I live, move and have my being —in Glasgow and in Greater Glasgow, which is my own constituency. My constituency is the largest in the whole of Scotland. It has a population to-day which cannot be very little short of half a million souls, who live partly in the suburbs and residential districts in Glasgow or its immediate environs or among the factories and shipyards of the Clyde. The situation in my constituency reminds me very much of the parable of the foolish virgins, because you will remember there, that all the bridesmaids were warned that the bridegroom would come, and they well knew that he would, but some of them were wise and prepared for it, and some of them were foolish and did not. My constituency is divided between two local authorities—the county of Renfrew, and the administration of the City of Glasgow, and that parable of the foolish virgins applies to those authorities, I regret to have to say. In that part of my constituency which is situated in the county of Renfrew, the whole question of shelters and air-raid precautions has been wisely, and, in my judgment, most efficiently handled. No one suggests that things are perfect. There is much to learn from the lessons of London which I trust will be learnt, and there are many things which they have now to do which no one could have blamed them for not thinking of doing before. That applies all over the country.
531 But I want particularly to call the attention of the House to that section—and it is a very large section—of my constituency which lies within the City of Glasgow, a very populous section. The situation there is nothing short of a scandal. I endorse every word that the hon. Member for Gorbals said in that connection, and I believe that my views are shared by every Member who is associated with, and has responsibilities in, Glasgow. There is no politics in this matter. The fact that the hon. Member and myself could so heartily agree fully proves that, but I regret to say that the attitude of the local authority in Glasgow is not one about which we have any right to be pleased. Criticism is intensely resented. Members of Parliament—at least myself—who have been taking a great I interest in this matter, as indeed others have too, have been warned off the grass, off the Tom Tiddler's ground, which is occupied by an emergency committee of three, who, as far as I can understand, have complete dictatorial powers over the whole of the vast City of Glasgow and its immense responsibilities. I would not be so strong or voice these sentiments if the ordinary channels of democracy for raising protests in Glasgow were not largely stifled or choked. The Corporation of Glasgow has handed over its responsibilities in this particular connection to an almost complete degree to an emergency committee of three, the leader and prime active mover of the three being a man for whom all have the greatest possible respect and admiration, but a man who is completely and grossly overworked. I refer to the Lord Provost of Glasgow himself. That committee of three have the whole responsibility, which has been handed over to them by the Corporation. It is too late now for the Corporation of Glasgow, who, I know, bitterly regret their action, but when they try to raise the subject in the ordinary way they are told, "It is out of your hands; all powers in this connection lie now with this emergency committee." And even there it would not so much matter if the emergency committee were more receptive of suggestions or criticisms, all of which are naturally helpful and well-meant, but they are far from receptive. They have an arrogant complacency which nothing in the circumstances can possibly justify.
532 I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend the Minister for Home Security saying to-day that where local authorities were not doing their job, he was perfectly ready to consider superseding their authority and insisting upon better action being taken. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune. The Government pay by far the greater proportion of the piper, and the Government have not, in my judgment, not only in Glasgow but elsewhere, been sufficiently insistent in calling the tune. It is true that they have sent advice and recommendations to local authorities, but where you have local authorities such as I was speaking about their advice and suggestions have been ignored.
I would like to endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals has said with regard to the condition of the surface public shelters in that part of my constituency which lies in Glasgow and which, indeed, applies in equal measure to all the city area. It is nothing more or less than a public disgrace; these shelters are of flimsy construction, have no doors, lights or seats, and many of them, except those which are about to be inspected by a Government official or Minister, are in a most insanitary condition. Nobody would go into them if he could help it, even to shelter from a thunderstorm, let alone bombardment all night. Only yesterday in the House in answer to a Question from myself in connection with the condition of air-raid public shelters in the Yoker district of Glasgow the reply, which evidently emanated from the local authority, was that the reason why there were no doors, amenities or facilities was the shortage of material. "Thereby hangs a tale," and a not too pleasant tale it is. It is not strictly accurate to say to-day that it is due to the shortage of material. To my personal knowledge all the necessary material is now in the hands of the local authority in Glasgow if they will only get a move on in regard to this crying scandal. It is true that there was much delay in collecting the material, but this was because the Glasgow Corporation started off too late behind the other authorities. The early bird got the worm, and when it came to the large amount of material needed for a huge city like Glasgow there was a shortage and there were difficulties. Had Glasgow been far-sighted enough and not squabbled with the Government as to whether air-raid protec- 533 tion was needed on such a large scale, and whether the Government should pay more, these weeks and months of wasted time would not have occurred, and Glasgow would be well equipped with material. Even to-day I understand that the attitude of the Emergency Committee is not one of contrition but rather of condescension, that they will agree as the result of public pressure to fit a few of these shelters with doors and lights, and that if the public behave nicely and be good boys, they will perhaps condescend to extend the facilities to other areas in Glasgow. This thing ought to have been rectified long ago. No other built-up area in the country is in such a parlous condition.
In my own constituency, which is largely residential, big basement shelters are largely impossible; we know there is not time to construct deep shelters, and, therefore, the vast mass of my constituents are dependent on surface shelters which have no lights, no seats and no anything.
§ Mr. Buchanan
In all fairness to Glasgow I would like to say that Glasgow did, long before the war, submit a first-class A.R.P. scheme to the Home Office which the Department turned down.
§ Major Lloyd
That may well be so, but all I am speaking about is the existing affairs, and although responsibility may be divided, I think a strong indictment can be made against the local authority. However, I will pass to other matters connected with air-raid precautions, to which I would be grateful if the Minister gave his attention. With regard to air-raid wardens and other A.R.P. personnel, owing to the fact that certain parts are in neutral areas the whole question of the war establishment of these areas should be revised, principally because of the fact that I understand it is only possible to issue equipment to wardens' posts and other A.R.P. sectors on the basis of the war establishment. I know of several posts where the war establishment is 30 and where, in point of fact, there is a very great number of members at these posts, in some cases as many as 120. They have been functioning and fulfilling their duties and sacrificing their leisure time at night, but 534 they have been unable to obtain any equipment at all because they are told that they are surplus to the war establishment. I hope this matter will be looked into by the Minister, because I can assure him that it is causing a good deal of distress and dissatisfaction among a self-sacrificing body of men.
I would like to suggest that the whole question of the rehousing of the people, should necessity arise, be given close and earnest attention from the point of view of co-ordination in Glasgow. I know there has been a considerable amount of work done, but in the light of the experiences in London no one can feel that a great deal more may not be needed. I most earnestly trust that as a result of what has been said to-day, even though some of it may have been put very strongly, the authorities will not assume that all is well in Glasgow. I hope London will do its best to ginger up the city authorities who are responsible for the section in my constituency, and I hope the Government will not hesitate, if satisfaction is not given, to intervene and, if necessary, to supersede.
§ Mr. Wilfrid Roberts (Cumberland, North)
I would like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) on his maiden speech and on the force and strength with which he put his arguments before the House. While being quite unable to go into the merits of the case he put forward, which I gather is contentious, I am sure he will be able to make a valuable contribution to the Debates in future speeches. I do not wish to detain the House long, because I know other Members want to speak, but there are one or two things I want to say to the new Minister in his absence.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Sir, what steps can be taken by those who represent English constituencies, seeing that there is no representative of the Ministries of Health, Transport or Food, nor the new Home Secretary either, on the Front Bench at present?
§ Mr. Roberts
I was hoping that perhaps some of these Ministers, or the Minister of Home Security, might have finished their lunch shortly.
§ The Secretary, of State for Scotland (Mr. Ernest Brown)
It was understood that the day was to be given to a debate on provincial cities and towns and on Scotland. It was quite unknown to the Government who would speak or for what parts of the country they would speak. We knew that certain Members from Scotland were to take part, and it is my responsibility to answer them. I will do my best to acquaint my English colleagues with what happens in their absence.
§ Mr. Roberts
I am glad to see the new Parliamentary Secretary return and to be able to congratulate her and wish her very well in her appointment. My right hon. Friend the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) and others, particularly the hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, have expressed widespread regret that the right hon. Gentleman who has become Home Secretary has this very large problem of home security as well as all the other problems of the Home Office on his hands together, and clearly it is not possible that all the ramifications of the problems of Civil Defence should be grouped under one Minister altogether. But I welcomed what the new Minister said in emphasising the importance that he attaches to this matter. I do not know that recrimination is much good at any time, but an immense amount of time has been wasted on the whole question of Civil Defence. Immense opportunities have been wasted. I do not altogether envy the right hon. Gentleman his task in trying to catch up with the wasted time. From an interruption which was made just now, the case of Glasgow is not altogether one for which the local authority can be blamed for delay, and apparently that applies to many other districts in and out of London. From what I have seen in the North of England and in London, the spirit of the people under the "Blitzkrieg" is magnificent, but it is the people who have been leading the Government. It has not been the leadership of the Government, and right through these long debates on Civil Defence, in which I have taken some part, I have always had a feeling of having to press the Home Office into doing more. Every reluctance and obstacle have been put in the way of doing sufficient. I am thankful that there are some people in charge of the work now who may press it forward rather more quickly.
536 Broadly speaking, I suppose there are three practical problems. There are the problem of shelter, the problem of evacuation and the problem of the Services, which may be grouped together. With regard to shelters, I think there is still a great deal to be said. I may not have many opportunities of speaking in the near future, and I feel justified in saying to-day that we have warned the Government, and all those who have had experience of war in Finland, Spain, Poland and elsewhere have warned the Government, and our warnings have been absolutely justified, about the experience here in London. Take the story of the tubes. The Under-Secretary yesterday corrected my hon. Friend on a very trivial point about the tubes. The hon. Baronet suggested that the people of London had rushed to the tubes. The Under-Secretary did not like the word "rushed". Two years ago the question of the tubes was raised, but nothing could be done. They were not safe. They might flood. The people of London decided to use the tubes, and the Home Office sent their police to put them out. The people of London, in their good-natured, good-tempered way, settled the problem, and they are there, but really the discomfort in the tubes at night might have been avoided. We welcome the bunks, but it is a waste of energy for people to be resting there insufficiently as they do. If they had had bunks for the last month, you would have got better work out of the people. Their nerves would have been rested. We are going to get them now, and thank goodness for that, but I hope that sort of negative attitude is not going to continue. I very greatly welcome, not only the new Minister himself, but the fact that there is a change in the Ministry, because of that negative attitude to the whole problem of shelter.
It has been said that it is bad to suggest that we should go underground. I am very young to the Service that I have joined, but already I have been instructed quite a lot about taking cover. The civil population ought to take cover, and they ought to have as effective cover as they can be given. It is all nonsense to say it is bad for morale. I went to some of the big shelters in the East End yesterday, and the morale was splendid, and so was the good temper with which they received an obvious, curious West Ender looking round to see how they were 537 getting on. They deserve to have some comfort. The conditions under which the civil population of London is living in this "Blitzkrieg" are more unpleasant and hard than in the military camp in which I serve. That is a big problem for the new Minister and his assistants to put right, and we hope it will be done quickly. I am not satisfied yet about the point of making the fullest use of private shelters. I frequently pass a huge concrete building. I have seen men working day and night to make what looks, without close inspection, to be a magnificent shelter. On the opposite side there are trench shelters for the people of the district in a little bit of open square. A fortnight ago a bomb fell into the trench shelter and killed a large number. This morning I saw that another large bomb had fallen within a hundred yards. I do not know how many were killed. On the front of the building there are still displayed notices, "This is a private shelter." I cannot understand or imagine why the firm, which has had the privilege of obtaining the material, should have the right to keep the shelter closed at night. It is far better than anything in the neighbourhood. There ought to be some considerable explanation to the people of the district why that notice still remains on the front of the shelter.
Up till yesterday or the day before I did not feel that the Home Office had been looking for good shelters. Surely, there are some old, disused tube stations of which we do not know; surely, the tubes could be more fully used, as indeed they will be when there are bunks, because the advantage of hunks is that they will enable from three to five times as many people to shelter in the tubes, provided ventilation can be adequately arranged. I imagine that by means of fans and other devices the ventilation can be improved. Deep shelters have really not been looked for. I have heard about vaults of the Port of London Authority which are said to be several miles long and very deep. I think we ought to have an assurance that all shelter that exists will be made available. The people of London and the provincial towns would then have confidence that no private interests and no departmentalism were preventing them from getting the shelter which they deserve. I can sleep through the noise of the guns, as I did at Hamp- 538 stead last night, and I can work while the bombs are dropping, but shelter away from noise is valuable and essential.
I wish that the adjective "deep" had never been used, for it is not a question of deep shelters. There has been a great deal of praise of the Anderson shelters; I have never criticised them, and on housing estates and in scattered districts they are excellent. There have been claims in Ministerial statements during the last two days that the surface shelters which the Home Office have been putting up have been a success. I do not know whether they have or not, but the other shelter, the two-phase shelter, would, I believe, have been a success if it had been anything more than a blue-print forced on the Home Office against their will. At the beginning of last June, when this problem was discussed, the Home Secretary spoke very highly of the two-phase shelter, and yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary said what a wonderful thing it was. In the middle of last June, I wrote to the Home Secretary asking where I could see this shelter, and the reply I received was that they had not circulated the plan to any local authority, but it was there and if a local authority liked to put up such a shelter, it could do so. That is not the way to go about this matter. I am told that these shelters could be put up in a week or two if the material were available, as I believe it could be made available.
This brings me to the problem of centralising the various aspects of the whole problem. The Regional Commissioners can do this locally, I think, but they will not do it unless they have instructions to get on with the job. I want to be sure that the Regional Commissioners and the local authorities are being told to get on with the job. If the two-phase shelter is the right sort of shelter, as I believe it is, then the local authorities ought not to be merely allowed to put it up and have it rank for grant, but should be told that it is the right thing to do and that they must get on with the job. It has been proved over and over again that shelter reduces casualties. A short time ago there was an article in the "Evening Standard" in which it was pointed, out that in 150 air raids on Malta, there had been no casualties. My recollection is that there were very few casualties. The reason for this is that Malta is honeycombed with old galleries in the rock.
539 There is one other thing which I want to emphasize. All over the North of England within reach of the vulnerable towns there are unemployed miners. Do we need to wait for the "Blitzkreig" to spread from one town to another, as I believe it will, before we make use of the services of these miners in providing shelters? The question of cost must not be considered. The men are available. I believe that cement production could be enormously increased. I believe the war will last quite a long time, and, therefore, I hope that in this matter a long view will be taken, as well as an urgent view, and that the productive capacity for cement will be immensely increased.
I want now to say something concerning the country districts and the small towns, the reception areas. My constituency, which is a reception area, has received a great number of evacuees. It is true, as the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said, that the most hospitable hosts were the working-class people and that the children who went back first went from middle-class and upper-class houses. The district is now full of self-refugees from all over England, not only from the East Coast and the Midlands, but from Kent and other places right up to the Scottish border. Rather scandalous rents have been brought to light, such as £4 a week for a room. It may be assumed that there is no room there for any more people, but I believe there is a great deal of room. It must, however, be found in a different way. The original idea of billeting children on foster parents will not do any longer for any great number of children. What we have asked for again and again in my district to meet the special problems of the North-East Coast is that the Ministry of Health should allow us to use country houses and other large buildings as hostels. The evacuees and the country people are rather different types, and although I do not want to say that evacuees are difficult or country people inhospitable, the fact that they are different types means that there will always be some who will not be able to be fitted in. Hostels are needed for them and for whole families which ought to be evacuated.
I cannot think why the Minister of Health was so hesitant about agreeing 540 to evacuate the older people from London. What is the purpose of evacuation? It is to take out people who are not essential, to reduce the need for the services in the districts which are most likely to be bombed, and to give more shelter in the available shelters. Surely, old people are ideal people to get out under an evacuation scheme. Surely, the right thing to do is not to try to push these people into other families, but to take big families, put them in hostels, and let them organise things themselves. In that way we could achieve a very considerable amount of dispersion of population. I believe it is the only way to do it, because the evacuation of children, and children with their mothers, will become increasingly difficult. I hope to see the new Minister and his assistants give a real lead. It would be wonderful to have a Minister who did things before being pressed to do them. It would be wonderful to be able to say on opening one's morning paper, "My goodness he has gone and done it, and a grand job he has made of it," instead of having to come here and press for action and then get only half the job done.
§ Mr. J. J. Davidson (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I welcome the opportunity of speaking to-day, because hon. Members will remember that, for many years, I have urged that certain things should be done in regard to defence and the safe keeping of the people in Glasgow and Scotland generally. First I should like to refer to the appointment of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. As a Scottish representative, and knowing his great work as a party man and as a public administrator, I welcome the change very sincerely. I welcome the appointment in view of my efforts to get things done by the previous Home Secretary. I believe it is, indeed, a change for the better. Scottish people are always rather jealous of their own country and for their own country's safe keeping. It is partly for that reason that I read with alarm, certain remarks in the Press with regard to the new appointment. They suggested that here was a man who would do everything for London; that here was a Minister who knew London and its problems. As a matter of fact I spoke to my right hon. Friend about it, and in his speeches and 541 in private he has deprecated the fact that such remarks should have been printed. I trust that the Minister and his Department will keep in mind the fact that while we in the provinces suffer with the London people in their agony, and appreciate the terrible times they have undergone, there are areas in the provinces and in Scotland which as far as the war effort is concerned, are more important than London. It is important that the Minister should take adequate steps, whether by himself or by a wise delegation of powers, to see that Scotland and the English provinces and Wales are sufficiently represented in his Department.
It is not right that the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary should, because Scottish Members are taking part in this Debate, be asked to accept responsibility for whatever may be said or whatever criticisms may be made. I suggest that it should be conveyed to the Minister that there is need for a complete survey of his Department in order to see that Scotland, Wales and English provinces are adequately represented in it. I welcome the appointment of the hon. Lady, the joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security, and like others, trust that she will "make good" in the Department. Already, she has a name which is well-known in the country and particularly in our own movement. I trust she will recognise that, in the Department, there must be some guarantee that the English provinces and Scotland and Wales are being looked after by people who have knowledge of their problems.
I listened with great attention to the very emphatic attack made on the Glasgow authorities by the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd). Much of his criticism was exaggerated and he said many things in his speech which were not strictly accurate. To describe the Lord Provost of Glasgow as arrogant and unapproachable is something which no Scottish Member would expect. I am one who has had many quarrels and many arguments with the Lord Provost but, although I have never succumbed to his personal charm and forgotten my argument, I believe he is one of the most approachable men in Scottish politics. If the hon. Member cares to go to the City Chambers and interview the Lord Provost 542 of Glasgow he will be met with accommodation, charm, generosity and intelligence which it would be very difficult to find in the East Renfrew part of his constituency. I do not think it is exactly fair on such an important question as this, for the hon. Member to criticise that authority.
I remember standing here two and three years ago and urging better defences for the people of Scotland, and better A.R.P. and Civil Defence services and advocating better hospital accommodation and more anti-aircraft units. I remember being told at one time with pride from the Front Bench that we had two antiaircraft units for Scotland. I think hon. Members should be made aware of the fact that a previous Home Secretary was dealing with these very important questions of A.R.P. defences. Glasgow has one of the most efficient fire services in the country and has built shelters for 800,000 people. Although the improvement in Glasgow is an improvement caused by pressure, it has been the pressure of various Departments and of the central authorities. I give the last administration every credit for sending commissioners to Glasgow and assisting in speeding up the provision of shelter accommodation. Although there are faults, it is not true to say that the Glasgow authorities are arrogant and will not receive advice or pay attention to representations. If the Minister of Home Security sees fit to appoint someone who can deal adequately with these questions in Scotland, he will find that Glasgow has played no mean part in building up an air-raid shelter scheme for the people.
I hear it said that some of the shelters in Glasgow are in a terrible condition and insanitary. I saw the same thing in London not long ago. It is not the fault of the local authorities, however, but the fault of the people themselves. In many instances they were destructive in the shelters and used them for purposes for which they were not intended. The people in Glasgow and other areas must be impressed with the fact that the shelters are their property and their safeguard, and that everything they do to worsen the conditions of the shelters is against themselves, their own people, and their welfare. It is right that that should be said because local authorities are often being blamed for many things when they 543 simply cannot provide police or other staff to look after the shelters. In my constituency there are still about 50 shelters without roofs and about 150 "closes" that have not been strutted. In tenement buildings the plan is to strut the "closes" with substantial pieces of concrete. I have asked questions privately, because it is difficult to make public the faults of areas without incurring a certain amount of danger, and I have been informed that the reason these shelters were left unroofed was a lack of material. While they have stood without roofs, however, others not far away have been erected for other areas and have been roofed.
In Glasgow we have had a difficult time. I would like to say that those engaged in administration, the auxiliary fire service, those doing wardens' duty and all sections of the community who are undertaking Civil Defence work, many on a voluntary basis, have shown a spirit which cannot be excelled anywhere. Their spirit was proved when they offered to come to London and relieve the pressure on the London firemen and other services. Their spirit leaves nothing to be desired, and when the real testing time comes, they will not be found wanting. I am concerned that they shall not be found, as many were in London in the first week of bombing, without adequate organisation and methods of dealing with the people. I trust that these questions are being fully considered by the Scottish Office and the Ministry of Home Security and that some steps will be taken to see that Scotland is adequately dealt with in these matters.
The Secretary of State for Scotland will be interested in a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). The subway in Glasgow, which is an efficient piece of transport organisation, has been closed. We have in Glasgow a first-class tram and bus service and a good train service, including the Cathcart Circle. With these three services we could well do without the underground form of transport, and the whole of the underground railways, which reaches round the city, could be used as a shelter. It would touch the congested areas, such as Govan, the City, Jamaica Street, part of Gorbals, Partick, Tradeston and other densely populated parts of Glasgow. The need for the 544 Subway in no way compares with the need which exists for underground transport in London, and we could do without it. For a number of years it has not shown a surplus to Glasgow Corporation. Steps should be taken immediately to see to the sanitary conditions and to provide bedding so that a great degree of safety could be guaranteed to the people of the area.
I should like to raise a question about hospital accommodation. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals and I have had a discussion about it and I am not sure that it has not been raised in the Department. We have a big hospital in Glasgow, the Southern General Hospital, which was originally a Poor Law hospital. Our old Poor Law hospitals were built on the most grubby lines in order to give the least amount of comfort so that people would not want to go into them, and the Glasgow Corporation have made great changes. They undertook a big programme and created great improvements there. This hospital is the nearest one to the great docks and railways of Glasgow. It is a hospital which could be used and will have to be used—because no hospital will turn casualties away—but the Board of Health in Scotland has intervened to stop the Glasgow Corporation from completing this important work. I think the completion would be a matter of spending only £5,000, though I am not very sure of the figures. I urge that the proximity of this big hospital to the docks and areas, which will be in danger when the "blitzkrieg" comes north, as I am convinced it will, should ensure further consideration being given to this matter. No foreign war machine can afford to ignore that production which is going on in the areas I am talking about, and there are similar areas in the Midlands and in Wales.
Next, I wish to deal with the question of the surface shelters in Glasgow. I have made it my business to see what is happening not only in my own constituency but in the centre of Glasgow. As far as I know, there has been no attempt to obtain for the people of Glasgow the use of the basement shelters of the warehouses and other big business buildings, though I think there have been some discussions on that point. In Baird Street, Union Street, Sauchiehall Street, all congested areas on a Saturday and Sunday night, I have looked in vain to see where the people could go in the event of an air 545 raid. There is one shelter in Midland Street. A sign directs people to Midland Street and my friend and I walked through and saw that it was a shelter to accommodate 296 people. We walked into the shelter; it is a lane, an ordinary, dirty lane, with the backdoors of one or two big business firms running on to it. There was not a chair in it and only one little electric bulb in the corner. That was a shelter for 296 people. It is all right if the raid lasts only 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour, persons can step in from the main thoroughfare and have some shelter; but if we are to have long continuous raids such as we have experienced in London it is of no use. In the winter time people would freeze in such a shelter. It is merely an ordinary lane, with one single light. It is unclean and no attempt has been made to furnish it with any comforts. We have a particularly keen winter in Scotland, and there ought to be some modicum of comfort—some heating, some beddings. I should like to know what efforts have been made to provide shelters in which our industrial workers can sleep, because it is more urgent to ensure that they get sleep than to provide sleeping accommodation for workers in some of the luxury trades.
When the Anderson shelters were introduced into Glasgow, some people put them up and some did not. Some put them in the best corner of the garden, some in another corner—they were all higgledy-piggledy. To its everlasting credit, the Glasgow Corporation stepped in and put up all the Anderson shelters—put them up properly, with a drainage scheme. Therefore, the Anderson shelters in that area are good. But what about other areas in Scotland in which local authorities have not taken that step? Has the Minister any power to require local authorities to do it? Local authorities ought to see that the shelters are not put up in a higgledy-piggledy fashion, and that there is a proper drainage scheme, and the Minister ought to give them the power to do it and recompense them if necessary.
The Minister spoke about deep shelters but did not say whether he was for or against them. He is a wise Minister. He has been called a Minister of great experience. His power of skilfully flattering his predecessor has been commented upon already. But he is a wise 546 Minister, and did not say whether he was for or against the deep shelter or the complete shelter. I would remind the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health that two or three years ago Glasgow submitted a complete scheme for the protection of thousands of people underground in Blythwood Square. Plans were prepared and a scheme was submitted, but it was turned down. I ask for a reconsideration of that scheme in the light of what has happened, of our experience of the raids here and the obvious desire of the people to have something other than surface shelters.
The Minister ought to re-examine this scheme. He ought not to ruin his career as his predecessor has done. I have been rather amused at the plaudits and the praise which have attended the leaving of office of the late Minister of Home Security. The Prime Minister stated that he was almost his right-hand man now. The men who sit on the Front Bench on this side and have attacked him tooth and nail, night after night, on his stinginess and his opposition to various schemes suggested by local authorities now seem to say, "Oh well, he was not such a bad fellow after all. He did his best and no blame can be attached to him." I do not believe that. He tied down this House of Commons and the country to a minimum of protection for the civil population—on the financial side. He stated in this House that expense was one of the guiding factors. It was under his jurisdiction that hundreds of the most important key people of the A.F.S. and other auxiliary services were "sacked" in areas in London, never mind in Glasgow. It was under his jurisdiction that economy was carried out with regard to our Civil Defence personnel in Glasgow. In Maryhill and in other districts we had men and women who volunteered in September, 1939, when the war was declared. They went to classes and trained voluntarily in those days. When the job became a paid job they received their pay. They were dismissed one after another, because of the desire of the late Minister and of the Government that only a fraction of the national war expenditure on armaments and on the soldiers and the Navy and the Air Force should be spent upon the civil population.
547 I trust that that idea has gone to-day. I trust that the new Minister of Home Security will say, as many of us have said, that the morale of the civil population, their going on in their jobs, their cheerfulness and their ability to have the ordinary amenities of life, will be among the greatest factors in bringing victory. Their morale is as important as the guarding and feeding of the Fighting Forces and as important as the best production of Bren gun or Spitfire. The cheerfulness and ability of the civil population in their factories and homes depend upon their knowing that the Government are doing everything possible for them and are sparing no expense. That will be the winning factor in the war. The civil population will defeat Germany and Hitler in the attempt which is being made to disorganise this country. The civil population will spring in, as they have been doing in London, when emergency arises, to assist the nation in its greatest hour. I trust that there will be no more of this stinginess, or of the tight purse, in regard to Civil Defence, but that Civil Defence will be recognised as one of the most important factors in our war machinery.
§ Sir Derrick Gunston (Thornbury)
The hon. Member who has just sat down somewhat criticised his late Front Bench because some of its Members who were always attacking the late Minister for Home Security say, now that they sit on the same Front Bench with him, that my right hon. Friend has done his best. May it not be, now that they are sitting on this Front Bench, that those Members have found out the facts of the case and have also found out the real worth of my right hon. Friend? That may be the answer. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to remember, in this important Debate, that we want the whole country to work together and that he should try to put aside attacks upon individual Ministers.
I agree very much with him in his concluding remarks that the fate of this country depends upon the civil population. In the Debate yesterday we spoke of conditions in London. I have had the privilege of going round and seeing London in the evening. Nobody need make any apology for going round London. I wish more Members could do so, and could let the rest of the country know how London and the East 548 End are standing up to this crisis. I believe that Hitler's plan will be defeated more than anything else by the heroism of the stand put up by the Londoners. We always expected this conduct of the perky cockney, but the wonderful thing is that the Jew and the foreigner are doing the same. I have been round to shelters in the evening, and I have been seeing the spirit and courage, as well as the wonderful patience, shown by our foreign population.
To-day, I suggest that some lessons that we have learned in London should be applied to the country as a whole. If we look and plan ahead and learn from the mistakes that we have made, we can avoid these mistakes in future. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Key), who made a very remarkable speech yesterday, told us how, in his area of Poplar, by planning ahead they had avoided a lot of trouble. Anybody who goes round London to-day will hear tribute after tribute paid to the foresight of the hon. Member, but do not let us pretend that everything is perfect. Let us admit candidly, while not trying to apportion blame, that there has been muddle by the Government, by the London County Council and by the local authorities. Let me give an example. I was surprised to hear from hon. Members on all sides of the House yesterday that nobody expected that people would have to sleep in shelters. Nobody had thought of it, but after all London has always been closer to Germany than Berlin to England, so the present position might have been thought of. Owing to the close distance of this country it shall have been realised that some day German aeroplanes might fly over this city for hours at a time, but nobody expected, for some extraordinary reason, that the people would sleep in shelters instead of merely sitting in them.
Everybody agrees that lack of sleep and overcrowding in London cannot go on. We must ask what the difficulties are in the way of a remedy. We were told yesterday that one of the solutions was evacuation, and everybody, yesterday and to-day, suggested that safety lay in dispersal. We were told that one of the difficulties of evacuation was that the mother and wife did not want to leave her husband behind and did not want to see the break-up of family life. To-day 549 there are many men in London who go to work after spending the night in a shelter and have no breakfast. Other parts of England ought to learn from this fact. Are we telling other local authorities the lesson we are learning in London? Are we telling the big cities that evacuation may be necessary? Are we telling them to set up communal feeding centres to provide men not only with a midday meal, but with breakfast if necessary? To run a communal feeding centre you must have a double staff. Has any effort been made to get voluntary workers so that they will be ready for this work when the time comes?
One of these problems of evacuation is that, although a mother may be ready to take young children away, she does not like to leave young girls who are in employment to spend their time in shelters. Hostels have been suggested. This matter ought to be brought to the notice of other cities which have not yet been damaged and arrangements made so that mothers can know that not only if their husbands, but their girls, are being looked after, then they will be ready to be evacuated. We will have to face the problem of compulsory evacuation of children, coupled with the compulsory and aided evacuation of the mother. The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) spoke about requisitioning houses. Nothing ought to stand in its way, but the country house is not always very well adapted for kitchen arrangements for feeding large families if they are each to do their own cooking. That. however, is not the real difficulty—and this is where the Government come in. The real difficulty is that every Government Department has been earmarking every possible house in the country. The Ministry of Health no doubt has been working very hard; I believe the War Office have done quite well, and the Admiralty also are earmarking every possible institution. Surely, the thing to do is to have a committee of Ministers—
§ Mr. E. Brown
May I say, in order to save misunderstanding, that there is complete liaison between the Armed Forces side and the civil side as to that sort of accommodation.
§ Mr. Brown
What I have said is still true. If accommodation is earmarked by the civil powers, and if it is not wanted temporarily, it would be foolish not to meet the temporary needs of the Armed Forces. The truth is that if the Army have accommodation which is earmarked for the civil population, and if the needs of the civil Departments arise, the military vacate and make room for the civil population.
§ Sir D. Gunston
I am sure that every Department has made every provision for its own needs. I know of one Government Department which took over a public school and the school buildings were never used by the Department. The Government should reconsider how much these houses are needed, and they should see whether they cannot be used more for billeting evacuees from the big towns. In regard to compulsory billeting, the hon. Member for the combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) said that one of the difficulties arises from the billeting officers. I am not sure that it would not be a good idea to have committees on which justices of the peace could serve to ensure that the larger houses are taken over where necessary.
It would be much better if we could get willing hosts in the villages, and, to use an American expression, I believe we have got to sell the towns to the country. By that I mean we must paint in the country districts a picture of what London is going through. May I give a personal experience? I was asked in my area to give a talk in church the other day on what was happening in London and the coastal towns, because we have taken a number of people from the coastal towns, and some of the villagers had not realised quite what their visitors had been going through. At the end of the service I was surprised when I learnt that this little village had contributed £10 to the East End. It can be done if you show them the picture. The people in London and the coastal towns are fighting in the front line. Any village would take troops from the front line. These people are also in the front line. They are the people who are helping to defeat Hitler. If you paint that picture, you will find willing hosts in the villages to receive them. Whatever happens, many people will remain in the big towns, and the problems of shelter must be faced. I agree that 551 the Anderson shelter has proved itself safe, but it is very uncomfortable. A brick shelter is somewhat suspect. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley said yesterday that in his area there were more people using the surface shelter than the underground shelter. I have been round Stepney, and all that I can say is that you will find the people in the underground shelters and not in the brick shelters. As to the underground shelter, it is not really a question of whether people ought or ought not to go underground. The point is that they will go underground if they can get there. Reference has been made to Tilbury. There must be lots of Tilburies throughout England. I suggest to the Minister that he makes a list of these probable places throughout the country which may be taken by the people and that they be adapted as quickly as possible. Tilbury has improved, it is improving every day, and it can be made much better. How much better would it have been if it had been taken over earlier from the railway or the Port of London Authority and if sanitation and water had been introduced.
The next point we have to realise is that if people are going to stay the night in shelters, we must try to give them some place where they can lie down. The problem, of course, is that of bunks. We are told that it is not possible to get bunks. May I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland—I believe he is going to reply —whether America has been approached in this matter? I believe that one of the greatest boons that the Americans would and could give would be sleep to the people of this country. If we could obtain steel or wood from America for making bunks, I think it would answer one of our problems. The Minister of Home Security very wisely spoke strongly of the family shelter. He referred to the danger of epidemic and disease. Of course, it would be better for the health of the country if family shelters could be provided. I think Anderson shelters could be adapted for this purpose. Drainage is not good. People cannot be expected to spend night after night sitting up in Anderson shelters without running grave risks to their health. On the other hand, we have seen that many basements have stood up very well to blast. It may sound Irish, but I believe the solu- 552 tion is to put some form of Anderson shelter on the ground floor of a house. In London it may be said that the houses are too small to do that, but it may be possible by knocking the party wall out to get an Anderson shelter into two houses, or it may be possible to put part of the Anderson shelter in the house so that the people can sleep with their heads in the Anderson shelter and their feet in the house. Any hon. Member who has been down to the East End and seen where the land mines have exploded will have been astonished to see that Anderson shelters on top of which houses have collapsed have been left standing. Nothing would be safe against a direct hit, but let us try and save the people from blast or the collapse of a house. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said that there are a lot of unemployed in Glasgow. That applies to other places, too. Why cannot these unemployed be used for such work as the propping up of basements, so that people may be fairly secure in their own houses against the dangers of blast and the collapse of the houses? We must prevent the idea spreading that the whole population of the towns and cities has to go underground.
I implore the Government to impress upon the local authorities and upon others responsible the need for adapting some of the lessons of London. Proper registration is absolutely vital. In many parts of London there has been no registration of the inhabitants of the houses. Consequently, many are missing, and it is not even known that they are missing. There must also be a record of where people have moved. One hears dreadful stories of soldiers coming home on leave, and trying to find out where their parents have gone after their houses have been destroyed, and, because there is no record of where they have gone, the soldier does not know whether they are alive or dead. The next thing is to impress upon the local authorities, or whoever is responsible, the need for an alternative method of heating. It seems to have escaped the notice of many people that failure of gas is one of the first things that might happen in a raid. I know of a case of a welfare worker who found that babies in a centre had been fed for four days on bully beef. She had to go out and buy a Primus stove in order 553 to obtain some cooked fruit juice. There must be a complete liaison between the local authorities, the voluntary workers, the A.R.P. workers, and the police. I was at a place near Bristol the other day, after it had been bombed, and I asked whether they had made all arrangements about rescue. They were confident that they had. The first policeman I met said, "These people do not know where to spend the night." Arrangements had been made, but they had broken down because no one had told the police about the rest centre. Therefore, communications are of the utmost importance.
A good deal was said yesterday about information bureaus. It has been found that there are not enough officials to give people all the informatiin that they want. In London Citizens' Advisory Bureaus have been set up in many parts, but many of them find, good as they are, that they cannot give voluntary workers the necessary knowledge during an emergency. Why not get a band of voluntary workers in the country districts and in the provincial towns, and give them the necessary information now? All that can be done with organisation and planning ahead. I urge the new Minister of Home Security and his lady assistant not to be too complacent. Schemes which have worked well in London are those which were planned ahead. Let there be no lack of organisation to minimise the horrors and troubles which may come upon us.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland-with-Boston)
My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) congratulated my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on his appointment. All of us wish to join in those congratulations. My hon. Friend pointed out, however, the imperative necessity of separating some of the duties of the Ministry of Home Security from the office now held by my right hon. Friend. The course of this Debate has shown that this is of real importance. There could be no other explanation of the fact that a newly appointed Minister, attending the House for this important Debate, sat here only for the first speech, and then made his reply, and left the House entirely. The right hon. Gentleman must realise that Parliament can help 554 him and is eager to do so, and that it is his duty to be in his place and listen to what Members up and down the country have to say. I speak as one who represents a rural area which has not been injured in this war, and the people of rural England are eager to do two things —to learn from the lessons of London and to help London in its difficulties. But London must realise that if the advice of my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Health had been taken and evacuation had been persisted in, many of the problems of the homeless that were dealt with yesterday would not have arisen. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) appealed time after time for registration for evacuation, and again the date for registration was extended, but when the time came for mothers and babies to go, the numbers expected did not turn up. But evacuation is still going on.
There have been some attacks upon unofficial evacuation. Nobody wants to see the countryside occupied by people who ought to be doing their job in London. It is not only in that way that unofficial evacuation takes place. In my division there are some soldiers, commanded by a servant of this House, and many of them have made arrangements for their wives and young children to come to them from the crowded parts of London. That has been the similar experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). Some of the workers in Covent Garden market, after the early heavy bombing, went to their employers—the fruit and vegetable salesmen—and said, "Can you help us get our wives and children away from London? We know that London has to be fed, and we will stop here and feed the people." The Covent Garden buyer of vegetables and potatoes got into touch with the farmer, who got his men together, and said, "What are you going to do for these chaps and their wives? What can you do to help them?" These people are doing their duty. Some of the labourers have "doubled" up in their cottages so that porters' wives and children can come and live in the countryside. As my hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury (Sir D. Gunston) said, the countryside will help the cities to the uttermost if they are told how and where they can help.
555 There is one other thing that I would say about the troubles of London. When people are homeless and have to be housed and clothed, let us get rid of any suspicion of charity. Boston, in Massachusetts, has sent gifts to this country which have been distributed among the homeless. As was referred to in the "Daily. Express," I believe the thing that appealed to the people who had suffered the loss of everything was that they were given new things in cellophane packings, with the makers' name on them. They did not go away in old clothes; they went away in new things, with new hope. I hope that this is going to be the settled and regular policy of my right hon. Friend. The American Red Cross has done great things which we all recognise.
There is another point to which I want to draw the attention of the Minister, who, I am glad to see, has not deserted us entirely. It is that I hope greater use will be made of the environments of London. Districts in Outer London, such as Stanmore and Finchley, are relatively safe, and wives and children can go there. Men and boys can sleep near their work and join their familiies for two or three days at a time at frequent intervals. We must learn to live dangerously; the people of this country are always willing to do that; but it will be difficult to persuade them to live unconventionally. It is far more difficult to get them to accept a breach of convention than to risk danger. I will not deal with shelter policy and the question of the deep shelter or the present blast and splinter-proof shelter, but I would say that whilst the whole countryside is eager to help London, London must not be selfish with regard to the provision of materials for shelters. We have need for shelters in the countryside. Dispersal is good, and rooms in houses can be reinforced for the protection of the people who live there. Where people are under control they should be given a certain amount of protection. I refer in particular to two classes—workers and schoolchildren. In certain districts employers are now under an obligation to provide shelter of specified standards for their workpeople. That obligation, I think, should be extended throughout the countryside and be universal to each employer of labour.
556 The other thing is school shelter. We want mothers and fathers to know that when their children go away from family control they are not going to suffer from the stupid and silly suggestions which I have heard in my part of the country and which the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) has heard in his district. Three suggestions have been made. First, that young children should go to school dressed in green and should lay on the grass in the event of an air raid; second, that they should take shelter in hedges and ditches. Imagine this in the Isle of Ely and the County of Holland! And, third, that it is only necessary to train the children to lay flat on the floor. We know we cannot have more shelters in rural areas until the people of London have protection, but when they have, we beg and plead that children should be given protection when they are at school, however remote they are from military targets. Bombs are dropping in all sorts of strange places now.
The Prime Minister referred in his speech to the importance of mobile forces rushing to succour distressed areas. Areas which have had an inactive time are eager to help. Some men from Boston came from London to help in the big fire, and others were moved to reserve, and these men are the best advocates that the Ministry can have for spreading the burden. When a woman has complained that her furniture might be spoiled by city children, I have heard them say, "Shut up, you should see what we saw in London." For 13 months we expected this aerial attack. For five or six weeks we have experienced it. Yet the life of the country still goes on. The milk from Cumberland arrives in London punctually. Outside the door is the daily newspaper, and every morning, if you get up before the "All clear," you will meet the charwomen going to work as usual. One of them said to me yesterday, "I left my house this morning with the glass blown in, and, as I went out, my old man said, 'I am sorry, when you have done your job at the office, you have got to come home to this mess.' I said, 'When this war is over you have got to take me to Berlin to show me what a mess can look like!'"
§ Mr. John Morgan (Doncaster)
I am glad that we have had a contribution from the angle of the country districts which 557 are being called upon to receive visitors from the densely populated areas, and are responding to the call. I wonder whether I could clear up a point which has arisen in my constituency and which, I think, must apply to others. It concerns the dilemma arising in an area which has hitherto known itself as a neutral area and then gets evacuees who have not made contact and who place the local officials in a difficulty as to who is the billeting authority and to what extent the billeting can be carried through. I found a town clerk and a citizen "squaring up" on Monday morning over the moneys that they had individually parted with on Saturday, in order to get people into a house because the police refused to recognise the compulsory billeting notice. Nowadays there is no neutral area, as I see it, and I hope we can get a firm declaration to-day that the billeting that is being done will not be surcharged on local authorities concerned who seek to meet a local and temporary situation which arises when people are fleeing from some terror elsewhere.
I was very glad to hear the last speaker refer to village shelters. This question is arising in a new form. I live in a village with a total population of 200 where we have an official evacuation of 65 persons, and an involuntary evacuation of another 40. Every house is occupied by uncles, aunts, cousins and the rest. I cannot imagine that the village has ever been so populated. The 65 are typical Londoners and they are looking for a shelter. They do not feel a bit safe in these ramshackle country houses. They come out into the open and stand under the stars rather than be cramped up in a poky sitting room which is no more than lath and plaster. There is also the problem of the village child. We had an air raid yesterday. We have the primitive warning of a whistle, with messengers riding on bicycles and much running to and fro. You see the youngsters scampering off the playground, which is a field, back to the little school to put themselves under the school desks. The feeling is that that is not good enough and that there should at least be some kind of reinforced shelter for them. It may not be possible to carry out such a scheme completely, but some kind of survey should be made pretty soon in order to provide shelter where it can be done, with a minimum of cost and delay.
558 Leading from that, I am confronted with the urban-mindednes of the Londoner who has come to a most isolated village. He is getting worried. He cannot make contact with the Employment Exchange every day; he has five or seven miles to go; and the bus does not run on the day the Exchange officials will see him. He is in a dilemma about whether or not he will ever get a job. It is creating in him and his wife a disposition to go back. They are prepared, having almost become frightened by the isolation in the country, having weighed it up and hearing bits of news which trickle down to them, to risk going back. There are in my village two groups of families who have asked my wife, who is the billeting officer, for their fares and the right to return. We are losing the sense of impending invasion. The proper authorities will know, within a little, whether or not invasion is a reasonable proposition. Although my hon. Friend the Member for Holland-with-Boston (Mr. Butcher) comes from a vulnerable part, from the invasion point of view, I should imagine that there are few safer areas for evacuees than his. Cannot we get the authorities to demobilise some of the defence areas, so that places like Yarmouth and Cleethorpes can take evacuees? This would give, in the winter, the urban-minded Londoner some of the amenities for which he looks and which he will never get in the country.
If the Government will take steps in areas where the people understand how to entertain visitors from such places as London and where they understand overcrowded conditions, there will be scope for a new flow of evacuees. I understand the feeling of people who like to go under the earth rather than in a surface shelter. There are also people who like to go west rather than east and who imagine that they will be safer in the Midlands and the West, than on the East Coast. I do not believe it. If statistics could be produced showing the kind of the attacks that have been made, not for publication but for the advice of local authorities, I think it would be found that the eastern areas have had less bombing than many other areas and are less likely to get it than many other areas because the great rural agricultural belt behind them makes them of little use from the attackers' point of view. I came up in the train to-day with a man from a seaside resort on the East Coast 559 who said they had not had a bomb within 40 miles. This defence area problem must be overhauled and if the decision is taken that a risk can be run in this matter I hope that other accommodation will be made for the urban-minded evacuees. Otherwise they will be very unhappy stuck down in tiny villages.
Another question I should like to ask is whether there is a tie-up of any sort between the Lord Mayor's Fund and Government Departments. The fund contains a considerable volume of money now and if evacuees cannot be shifted about, I hope that representations will be made that some of this money should go towards improving the amenities of evacuees in evacuated areas. I hope that those concerned will take a wider view of the relief which they are able to give from that fund to Metropolitan boroughs, and that they will follow the Metropolitan evacuees down to the little village halls, and see that there is coal to keep the fires going and games the men can play and things of that sort. Perhaps mild representations could be made on those lines. But do not think, because of anything I have said, that the country people are not ready to give the warmest welcome. The figures I indicated show that my own people have accepted twice the official number and have dealt with them well. I have in mind, however, the evacuees standing about in winter, wondering what they are to do, and whether it would not be worth while to return home and I hope something will be done to meet their case.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Ernest Brown)
The issues which have been raised during the Debate since my right hon. Friend spoke are many and various and, of course, affect more than one Department. In my own particular case as Secretary of State for Scotland, everything that happens in Scotland is of interest to me although my responsibilities are not the same in regard to all these problems. In all these problems there is a close relationship between the Ministry of Home Security and the Regional Commissioner who in Scotland has been doing most admirable work, as have the other Regional Commissioners in England and Wales, in carrying out the powers delegated to him. Then I have my own particular 560 responsibilities with regard to shelters, especially in the realm of what I may call health and social policies. All these problems have been touched upon to a greater or lesser degree.
I have noticed one thing which has rather surprised me during this Debate. It is quite natural that a tremendous amount of attention should have been paid to the experience of London, because London at the moment is in the eyes of the whole world and not merely of this House. But I have been rather surprised it has not been stressed more strongly that we have had experience outside London, although not to the same extent or in the same magnitude as in London. I thought it right to say that, because I want to point out that I think it is wise in stressing the particular difficulties which have arisen in London, that we should not try to generalise too far. It is true, as indeed the speech which I heard with great interest yesterday from the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Key) proves, that there is a difference in local authorities in an area. In London a number of authorities are concerned, while in other parts of the country the problem is simplified to the extent that there is not that multiplicity of local authorities responsible for the arrangements. In Glasgow, for instance it will be the Glasgow Corporation, in Edinburgh the Edinburgh Corporation, and in Manchester the Manchester Corporation. Of course, it is sometimes the case that outside London, in other great cities, you have two authorities, generally not more than two, one a county authority, and the other a city authority. I put in that word of caution in regard to the speeches which have, quite rightly, emphasised to Ministers that those who are responsible for areas outside London should do everything in their power to make known to local authorities in every way the lessons that can be learned through the testing experience in other great cities and towns. I can assure the House that that has been done and is being done.
Let me now deal with my own task. I may say it was very interesting for me to find that there was only one Scottish question raised which really affected my own administration and my own specific responsibilities, and that was the point raised by the hon. Member for Maryhill 561 (Mr. Davidson) about a hospital in Glasgow. I am aware of that problem, and I would like to tell the hon. Member that, since the original talks about the problem of that hospital, we have had further information from the Glasgow Corporation on their application for sanction to borrow £5,000 for the project, and the matter is now being further considered, and sympathetically considered. The hon. Member also made an eloquent and general point about hospital accommodation, especially in congested dock areas. Although I will not mention numbers, I would point out to him that there is a large number of hospitals of a casualty receiving nature in Glasgow, but as a matter of fact out of the total number of hospitals more than three-fifths are in the congested areas. What would happen, of course, would be that the immediate casualties would be dealt with in those hospitals and then, as early as may be, would be moved to the base hospitals for which we are making ample accommodation in other parts of the country.
While dealing with that matter, I must deal with the question of Glasgow as a whole, because although with regard to a maiden speech a Minister always desires to agree with everything that is said, as Secretary of State for Scotland I could not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) in his judgment of the Emergency Committee of the Glasgow Corporation. Indeed, I should betray my trust and be ungenerous if I did not point out that there is a great deal more work which has been done by the Emergency Committee and by the Glasgow Corporation than the hon. and gallant Member appears to realise. For instance, one of the problems which has arisen has been the arrival at the ports of our country of thousands of refugees from various parts of the world. What we should have done but for the quick action at any hour of the day or night by the Emergency Committee, with its machinery, and the wholehearted hospitality which it has shown to the refugees, I do not know.
§ Mr. Brown
I was coming to that. Some weeks ago I was in Glasgow, and on the day of my visit there was a call from the military commander of one of our Allies 562 billeted somewhere in Scotland to know whether they could get any instructors in the English language. [Interruption.] That is not my phrase but theirs. There was an English poet who said of Robert Burns that in some of his poems he spoke English with a Northern tinge. That request came in late one evening and an emergency call went out to the teachers of Glasgow to see what they could do, and at half-past nine the next morning 40 teachers had agreed to give up a part of their holiday and went out to do that task. I quote that instance in fairness to the Emergency Committee, because when Members are keen, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew is —the forcefulness of his speech showed how keen he was—they sometimes see things through one window only and do not take a wider view, nor realise how heavy are the responsibilities of those who have to administer either a Government Department or a great local authority.
About the question of shelters. One of the lessons which has been learned from this long-continued testing time in London has been the necessity for envisaging a problem which it is fair to say was not envisaged in the way it should have been, that is to say, from the point of view of providing regular habitation for periods of long hours at night and for many weeks on end. I beg hon. Members who have spoken on that matter not to overlook the fact that the problem before us was entirely changed from the moment that the Northern part of France was overrun. The strategical problem and the views of the civil authorities were subjected to a change the moment the attack from the air came from the South instead of from East to West. As to the situation in Glasgow, I have made inquiries about it, and this is the position: I need not add to what the hon. Member for Maryhill said about the conferences over Blythwood Square between the Glasgow Corporation and the Minister of Home Security, but I would point out that at the moment there have been erected in Glasgow 20,838 Anderson shelters, giving accommodation to 125,000 persons. There are to be erected now 1,759 individual domestic surface shelters, of brick, with an average accommodation for six, which will give accommodation for 10,554 persons. Communal domestic shelters, each accommodating 24–48 persons, will 563 provide accommodation for 222,793 persons. Then there are the strutted closes. All Scottish Members know that our problem is rather simpler, from some points of view, than the problem of English local authorities which are dealing with little workmen's cottages, either Victorian ones or the modern ones to be found in the new housing estates, because our big five-storeyed tenements are immensely strong.
§ Mr. Davidson
There is also the possibility that with the numbers there we may have greater casualties.
§ Mr. Brown
That may be. I am glad that my hon. Friend interrupted me, because he has reminded me of something which I intended to point out later. There can be no doubt that risk from blast and splinter is spread over a wider area and is likely to affect more people than risk from a direct hit, and it was the appreciation of that fact which led the Halley Committee which considered all types of shelter before the Government made up their mind on the shelter policy, to say that dispersal was a wise policy. The Anderson shelter enabled protection against blast and splinter to be made available for millions of people, whereas other kinds of shelter could have provided only for some thousands. But I am being led away. With regard to the Scottish closes, I understand that the average accommodation of a close is 40. The number of closes which have been strutted is 8,099, and the total accommodation is 323,960.
§ Mr. Brown
That I cannot say. This is the total accommodation which I am now giving. Then there are the strutted basements, which are rather larger basements and have an average accommodation of 100. The total accommodation there is 1,681, at the moment. There are also the public basement shelters, with an acommodation which varies from 100 to 900. I may say that these are all provided in Glasgow with sanitary facilities. The total accommodation there covers 13,310. Reference has already been made by my hon. Friend and by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) to the street surface 564 shelters. As the House knows, they will accommodate about 50 persons each. A total accommodation will be provided there for 56,070 persons, and plans are in hand. There is accommodation in trench shelters, all of which are provided with sanitary facilities, and the total number of people covered is 17,175. There are tunnel shelters, where sanitary facilities are provided, for 300 persons, and there are two archway shelters which accommodate 100 and 296 persons respectively.
§ Mr. Brown
Yes, but shelters have to be provided not only for the long period, but for the brief period. Members who have watched daylight raids will know that this kind of accommodation has to be available so that people who are caught in the streets in a raid can find shelter. We have to consider not merely the problem of the night raids, but of the day raids, and to try to meet every kind of need as far as we can.
The last category is commercial premises. There is shelter accommodation for workers, and it has been provided by the owners of commercial buildings. I am told that the total accommodation is about 60,000 and that in all these shelters sanitary facilities are provided. There is one case in which I did not gather whether the accommodation was provided for the workers or for the public, but I will look into that case and I will see that the facts are brought out. Some of the basement shelters in Glasgow already have water laid on and others have not. The basement shelters and trench shelters are electrically heated and have seats. The public surface shelters have at present no lighting or seats, but I am glad to tell the House that the Emergency Committee recently decided to provide lighting, and, so far as possible, some seating accommodation. All public shelters are ventilated and, as Members who have studied these matters know, this is a very difficult problem indeed. The public shelters were not provided with doors as they were not designed for long use. Through that lack of doors there has been a good deal of misuse of some of these shelters, in ways which I need not specify now. The corporation cleansing department has now arranged for systematic cleansing. My 565 hon. Friends who are interested in this matter may therefore look for progressive improvement.
I am afraid that if I say more about Glasgow I shall take up more time than I ought—although I do not expect that other boroughs of Great Britain will grudge this small meed of attention given to the second city in the Empire, especially in the light of the remarks which have been made. We have been watching with very great care everything that has been happening in London, and we are taking the utmost care to see that all the local authorities which are responsible in these matters are informed as to the new problems that have arisen in the course of the events of the last month or so.
The hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) made a speech not concerning particular cities but on general problems, and he urged me to see that the points which he made are conveyed to my right hon. Friend. This I will do, as indeed I will all the other points which have been raised. The hon. Member, however, made one reference which I do not think was fair. He said the Home Office should have been more active 2½ years ago. I remember that some of those who are now speaking earnestly about Civil Defence would not come on to the National Service platform 2½ years ago. Some of those who are now calling for deep shelters would not come on to the National Service platform. I had some sardonic amusement as I sat here to-day when we were told that there was a shortage of a certain type of labour, and I remembered that scores of questions were put to me within the last year asking why we were still reserving certain kinds of operatives.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member is wrong. They came from all parts of the House, and one or two came from an hon. Member sitting quite close to the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). We had 12 quiet months, and those of us who tried to strike the balance between Civil Defence on the one hand and the Armed Forces on the other found it a difficult problem to set aside a large number of men because we had not had this testing time over that long period. Now that there is a shortage of 566 men I would ask hon. Members not to make references of that kind. We had the Civil Defence forces trained and ready. Whatever my hon. Friend the Member for North Cumberland may say, history will say that the Minister of Home Security showed great prevision and courage, and performed a fine piece of constructive planning which has stood the hardest test which has ever been thrown upon an administration throughout the whole history of the world. I do not wish to encourage any sort of complacency. We have to understand that every lesson that can be learned must be passed on swiftly and without delay, but it will do no good to the future to belittle what has been done in the past.
It is not my duty to enter into a controversy about types of shelter—my right hon. Friend dealt with that subject at length to-day—but I would say that the Anderson shelter, the specified surface shelter, the unit shelter and the strutted basement shelter have every one of them proved their worth for the purpose for which they were designed, namely, to give shelter against blast and splinters. All who want to encourage their constituents to have faith in those shelters may do so, on the authority of the best experience we have.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The Minister will appreciate that while we encourage our constituents to have faith it is no good encouraging them if they cannot have the material to build the shelters.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member knows that the change in the strategical situation altered the whole position. The Minister of Home Security will watch the position, and adapt the policy accordingly; and it has been adapted in various parts of the country already. I have listened to the speeches of hon. Members who, I am glad to say, have taken a great interest in the problem of the hard-hit places. My hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury (Sir D. Gunston) talked about feeding arrangements. There is a double responsibility for this. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Food is responsible for communal feeding as such, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in England and I in Scotland are responsible for feeding the homeless during the period that they are in rest shelters. But I 567 would like to make it clear that the rest shelters are not meant to be dwelling places for long periods, but are meant to meet immediate needs. A small minority are tending to make these centres dwelling places. It may be that if some emergency arose we might find a shelter equipped for one purpose being used for another purpose.
§ Sir D. Gunston
I agree with what my right hon. Friend said about rest shelters, but am I to understand that the Government accept the principle that, in the event of families being evacuated, communal feeding will be provided where required?
§ Mr. Brown
That is being done. My hon. Friend can be assured that that problem is being actively dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. I might be allowed to say this on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. He said yesterday that the Government intended that hot meals should be provided in the food and 568 rest centres for the homeless, and that local authorities in the regions outside London, acting upon the Ministry's circulars had in fact been serving such meals. He said that the lack of provision of a hot meal in the centres in London during the first few days of the "Blitzkrieg" had not been in accordance with the Government's intentions. The leader of the London County Council, Mr. Latham, has made representations on this point and has urged that a financial provision which was adequate for the supply of hot meals in the provinces, where the numbers of homeless were far less than in London, was not in fact sufficient in London, and that the London County Council were not therefore able to provide hot meals. My right hon. Friend has gone into those representations carefully and he acquits the L.C.C. of blame. But after he had heard of the situation in London after the first severe bombing he gave the L.C.C. full authority to provide meals.
§ Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.