HC Deb 16 October 1940 vol 365 cc690-1
37. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Postmaster-General what arrangements have now been made for carrying on the work in London central post offices during the alert, and whether their doors are now open during this period?

The Postmaster-General (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

The general arrangement now in force in the Post Office is that normal business should continue during the alert period until danger is imminent. At large offices a roof spotter system is in force to give warning of imminent danger; but in smaller offices, the decision in the matter must necessarily be left in the hands of the local controlling officer.

Mr. Strauss

Does that apply to the main post offices in London—Mount Pleasant and others—and are the doors of those post offices now open for business during the alert period?

Mr. Morrison

What I have said applies generally to all the offices to which the hon. Member refers. During the alert period the doors of those offices are open until imminent danger arises.

Mr. A. Bevan

Does this apply to all offices, or does the local controller have the right, to decide whether offices shall be closed?

Mr. Morrison

The local controlling officer has the responsibility of saying whether a period of imminent danger exists which would justify closing the offices; but the general rule is, as I have stated, that during the alert period the offices are open.

Mr. Bevan

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the effect psychologically upon people all over the country, when an important Government office closes immediately an air-raid warning goes, while ordinary people are expected to go on working? Is the decision left to the local controller?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir. The general rule is to have offices open during the alert period. That rule is generally followed. During a period of imminent danger an office is closed.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that very often imminent danger occurs before the alert is sounded?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, that is a risk that we must run.

Major Milner

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that public opinion regards his Department as the one which has failed in the present emergency?

Mr. Morrison

That is rather a larger question.

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