HC Deb 16 October 1940 vol 365 cc695-6
68. Major Milner

asked the Home Secretary whether he will indicate the precise functions of each of the various Civil Defence and other Commissioners appointed in the London area?

Mr. Mabane

There are three Regional Commissioners for Civil Defence in the London Region, the right hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Wallace), Sir Ernest Gowers, and Admiral Sir Edward Evans. They may in certain circumstances assume the powers of Government; but in the meantime they are engaged in co-ordinating measures of Civil Defence in the London Region and are responsible for certain aspects of Civil Defence delegated to them by the Ministers of Home Security and Health. Admiral Evans is giving special attention to shelters. Two Commissioners for Special Purposes have recently been added to the London Region organisation; the hon. and learned Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Willink) has been appointed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health as a Special Commissioner to supervise the arrangements for the care and re-housing of persons rendered homeless and Sir Warren Fisher was appointed by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, when Minister of Home Security, as Special Commissioner to organise the clearance and salvage of debris and to facilitate the work of the authorities responsible for the restoration of roads and public utility services damaged by enemy action.

Major Milner

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is great confusion in this matter, and could he not make things clear by publishing these particulars in a more detailed form, with the addresses of the Commissioners, so that people would know where they might apply?

Mr. Mabane

I think the publication of the answer will be all that is necessary to clarify any doubts.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the hon. Gentleman make it clear where letters should be addressed, and where are the headquarters of each Commissioner, because that would be a great help to local authorities and the public?

Major Milner

Could we know what is the precise function of the Chief Regional Commissioner?

Mr. Mabane

The senior Regional Commissioner was mentioned first, and he has general supervising functions over the whole of the London regional organisation.

Sir H. Williams

Is it not the case that the Commissioners all have post-box addresses, like Farringdon 501, from which one can never get an answer?

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not a remarkable thing that not a single member of the Labour party has been appointed among all the Commissioners in London?

Mr. Mabane

Members of the Labour party have been appointed Commissioners in other parts of the country.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not remarkable that though London is largely governed by the Labour party, not a single member of the Labour party has been included in the recent appointments?

Sir Francis Fremantle

Is not the Home Secretary a member of the Labour party, and he governs the whole lot?

Colonel Arthur Evans

Does the hon. Gentleman consider it desirable that these appointments should be made upon a political basis?

Mr. Shinwell

Was not the appointment of the hon. and learned Member for North Croydon (Mr. Willink) a purely political appointment?

Mr. Mabane

I think there can be no doubt that that was not the case.

Mr. Charles Brown

On what basis are the appointments made?

Mr. Key

Would it not be well that someone familiar with London local government should be appointed?