HC Deb 18 December 1941 vol 376 cc2053-5
6. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any steps are being taken to establish Home Guards in India on the British models?

The Secretary of State for India (Mr. Amery)

There is nothing precisely similar to the Home Guard in India, where conditions and needs differ from those in this country. Opportunities for voluntary part-time service have been provided hitherto for both Europeans and Indians in the Indian Auxiliary Force and the Indian Territorial Force, the latter of which has now for the most part been converted into regular battalions. Despite its civilian nature I must also mention the Civic Guards, an organisation initiated in the various Provinces in June of last year, to assist the regular police and to undertake duties connected with Air Raid Precautions, anti-sabotage and various other important aspects of internal defence.

Mr. Wedgwood

May I ask, in the first place, whether that Answer applies to Burma? Is anything more being done in Burma at the present time? Secondly, I would ask whether there is any sort of demand in India itself for Civil Defence measures such as there was in this country?

Mr. Amery

As regards Burma, I should like to have notice of the Question. With regard to India, there has been a demand of a general character in some quarters.

9. Mr. Sloan

asked the Secretary of State for India what action has been taken for the protection of the people of Bengal, Behar and Assam, large parts of which will shortly be within the range of Japanese bombing planes; and what arrangements have been made for shelter accommodation and feeding in the event of bombing operations?

Mr. Amery

I am unable to give details of the Air Raid Precaution measures in the Provinces mentioned, but I can assure the hon. Member that over recent months the Civil Defence Department of the Central Government, whose function is to stimulate and co-ordinate the efforts of the Provincial authorities, has been very active in extending and strengthening local organisations. For this purpose it has obtained the services as instructors of officers with practical experience of air raid conditions in this country. I understand that conditions in India are held by expert opinion to be unsuitable in general for covered shelter on an extensive scale but that in certain areas trench shelters have been provided. In the main, resort will probably be had to dispersal of the population from crowded areas to temporary camps. Plans have been made, for example in Calcutta, for the relief of people rendered homeless.

Mr. Sloan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in this area there are some 80,000,000 people who have not even housing accommodation, and how does he expect to protect them against bombing raids?

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