HC Deb 23 January 1941 vol 368 cc279-80
17. Mr. James Hall

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the plans for deep shelters submitted to him by the Stepney air-raid precautions controller; and whether he is prepared to sanction the provision of the shelters?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I have considered these proposals but, for reasons which have been conveyed to the A.R.P. Controller by the Regional Commissioners, I have not been able to give them my approval.

Mr. Hall

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the persistent bombing that has taken place in Stepney and of the need for adequate protection for the people there? Is it not time that there should be a revision of the policy of providing protection merely against blast and splinters, and that the lives of the people should be taken into consideration?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, I am aware of the serious bombing that has taken place in that part of London. But serious bombing has taken place elsewhere and may again take place elsewhere, and the quantities of materials which would have been required for this particular scheme would have meant that a large number of other areas would have had to go short. Therefore, with regret, I could not see my way to do what was asked.

Mr. Hall

Am I to assume from that reply that the right hon. Gentleman is merely concerned with protection against blast and splinters and is not prepared to revise the policy of his predecessor?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, I am concerned to get the maximum protection possible within the limitations of the materials available, and I really cannot pursue a policy which means concentrating materials in particular districts at the expense of all other districts.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear again—I know that he has done so once—to all local authorities that he is in favour of providing as much strong shelter as possible, subject to the possibility of obtaining materials, and to that alone?

Mr. Morrison

I think I have shown that by the policy I have already adopted, but the policy brought up to me by Stepney would have involved the difficulties to which I have draw n attention. I think I have shown already by my attitude that I am willing to consider cases on their merits.

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