HC Deb 24 October 1940 vol 365 cc1127-9
21. Mr. Arthur Hollins

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that members of the air-raid precautions, wounded in carrying out their duties, have their wages reduced after a limited number of weeks; and whether he will take steps to remedy this injustice?

Mr. H. Morrison

This matter is engaging my active consideration.

Mr. Hollins

Does not my right hon. Friend realise that these men are now in the front line, the only difference being that they are engaged in saving life instead of taking it, and that their dependants should not be penalised for that reason?

Mr. Morrison

I fully realise that, and, as I have said, the matter is under active consideration.

Mr. Thurtle

Would my right hon. Friend say that it will have not only active consideration, but sympathetic consideration, in view of the fact that these men have a real grievance?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think I can go any further than I have gone, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that this is a matter about which I should not be unsympathetic.

Sir Percy Harris

Does my right hon. Friend realise that it very much adds to the anxiety of these men, who are employed on dangerous and risky work which at any moment may end their lives, to know that if they are injured there is no adequate provision made for them and their families?

Mr. Morrison

That is one of the aspects which is being considered.

Sir Malcolm Robertson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are men who have nothing more than 25s. a week, out of which they have to pay 16s. for rent and 4s. 10d. for insurance, leaving them 4s. 2d. on which to live? I know of such a case which is causing extreme dissatisfaction among A.R.P. workers.

Mr. Morrison

I will take that into account. If the hon. Member will let me have particulars, I will see that they are considered.

31. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Home Secretary whether arrangements will be taken in hand for the provision of rest billets and transport to them for the benefit of air-raid precautions workers in the Metropolitan area?

34. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Home Secretary whether he will arrange for widespread opportunity for Civil Defence workers in the Home Counties to exchange duties for a period with those in London?

Mr. Morrison

The proposal that London Civil Defence workers should exchange duties with workers from other areas is undoubtedly attractive, and interchanges have been made in certain services on a small scale. I am having the matter examined in all its aspects, including the relative problems of transport and billeting of personnel, and at the moment it would be premature for me to attempt to make any definite statement.

Mr. Harvey

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the letter in the "Times" from Lord Horder on the vital importance of providing intervals in rest billets for these workers?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Simmonds

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is an overwhelming desire on the part of workers in the Home Counties to relieve the London workers, and will he see that any administrative difficulties are removed as quickly as possible?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir; I will not. Administrative difficulties have to be faced; they have to be recognised. In so far as they are removable I will remove them, but in so far as they cannot be removed I cannot. I am perfectly sympathetic to the proposal. Obviously it is one to which one should be sympathetic, and I will do everything I can, but it must be remembered, taking the wardens' service, for example, that we cannot go in for a wholesale transfer of personnel, because it is necessary that wardens should know intimately the districts in which they are working.

Mr. Simmonds

With deference to my right hon. Friend, this matter has been under consideration for rather a long time, and while we are grateful for his promise to do what he can, will he see that there is no delay?