HC Deb 19 September 1940 vol 365 cc179-81
30. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary to what extent gas curtains have been provided for air-raid shelters; and whether he is aware that in certain cases the police are advising against their installation?

Sir J. Anderson

My information is that a large majority of local authorities have taken steps to provide gas curtains or hold them ready for installation in public shelters. I am not aware of any opposition having been offered by the police.

Mr. Mander

If I bring certain cases to my right hon. Friend's attention, will he be good enough to look into them?

Sir J. Anderson

Perhaps my hon. Friend will be good enough to do so.

23. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider allocating a part of the public air-raid shelters to accommodate persons who are accompanied by their dogs in order to avoid danger to such individuals who refuse to leave their pets outside the shelter?

Sir J. Anderson

While I fully sympathise with the feelings of dog-owners, the difficulties in the way of admitting animals to public shelters are so serious that I do not feel that I could properly recommend local authorities to adopt the arrangement which my hon. and gallant Friend proposes.

Mr. Ammon

Can this be extended to the people who are giving temporary refuge to those who are dehoused? A number of people are complaining that people are taking their animals, and are causing a good deal of annoyance.

Sir J. Anderson

I will consult my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health.

Mr. Ellis Smith (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister for Home Security whether he can make a statement on the provision of air-raid shelter accommodation and on the urgent need for supplies of material for the construction of shelter?

Sir J. Anderson

I do not think I can say more than this, that it has been made clear to local authorities that they are expected to press on as rapidly as possible with the provision of shelter by means of one or other of the various expedients of which they have been given particulars, and that the Department for their part have been doing, and will continue to do, everything in their power to ensure supplies of necessary materials subject to the competing claims of other public services. I am sending my hon. Friend copies of recent circulars on the subject.

Mr. Smith

Will the Minister see that immediate and energetic action is taken in all areas to deal with this matter where it is required?

Sir J. Anderson

That would be my desire, subject to the difficulties, of which, I am sure, hon. Members have some realisation.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that priority is given to cement? Is he not aware that many shelters are useless, because of the absence of cement, to provide the necessary roofs, although the walls are standing; and that applies all over London?

Sir J. Anderson

I am sure my right hon. Friend will appreciate that so far as the competing claims for cement are concerned, all I can do is to press vigorously, as I have done, the requirements of Civil Defence, but I must accept the decisions which may be taken by the appropriate authorities in the matter.

Mr. Woodburn

In view of the fact that some people in London have decided on tube stations as deep shelters, could not the Minister make use of some of the unemployed miners to make excavations and enlarge the scope of the existing stations?

Sir J. Anderson

I do not think that would be practicable.

Major Milner

Is the Minister aware that while many shelters and tube stations are very much overcrowded, there is a vast capacity quite unused, and would it not be very helpful if the right hon. Gentleman would instruct the police and the air-raid precaution services to endeavour to direct or advise people to those shelters which at present, as I have seen for myself, are largely unoccupied?

Sir J. Anderson

My hon. and gallant Friend is perfectly correct in what he says. The difficulties in the present situation have been aggravated because of the tendency of people to flock to certain types of shelter which they mis- takenly regard as offering better protection. I am doing everything possible, through the police, the local authorities and the air-raid precaution services, to ensure better distribution to the shelters, a better use of the available accommodation and a closer regard to the very important principle of dispersal in this matter.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the advice which was offered on the B.B.C. wireless in this matter?

Sir J. Anderson

I will consider that point.

Sir John Jarvis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most of the unused capacity has no seating or lavatory accommodation?

Sir J. Anderson

Really, that is not so.

Mr. Gallacher

Would the Minister devise some kind of shelter to allow women and children especially to get some sleep at night?

Sir J. Anderson

That point goes beyond the question of shelters, but it is a very important matter, and I will give some consideration to it.