HC Deb 30 April 1941 vol 371 cc419-20
23. Mr. Silkin

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether he is aware that in a building belonging to a commercial undertaking, part of which is occupied by a Government Department, the former refuse to permit the staff of the Department sleeping in the building to use the air-raid shelter in the basement during air-raids; whether, in consequence, casualties including loss of life were sustained by the staff in a recent raid; and whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into all the circumstances and take urgent and appropriate action?

Mr. Hicks

The basement shelter in the building in question can only accommodate a part of the total number of persons who work in the building. It is allocated to persons occupying the upper floors and those occupying the lower floors have the use of the corridors on these floors, which are up to the standard required by the Civil Defence Act. Up to the present the Government staffs have, in the main, been accommodated on the lower floors. During the raid in question, members of the staff who sought access to the basement shelter were admitted. The explosion of a heavy bomb immediately outside the building caused extensive damage to the windows and internal partitions, and unfortunately one man lost his life. Arrangements have been made to place basement shelter space at the disposal of the staff who remain in the building during the night.