HC Deb 23 January 1941 vol 368 cc277-9
16. Mr. Horabin

asked the Minister of Labour what steps have been taken to ensure that the Assistance Board carries out its duties effectively in Newquay so as to obviate evacuated mothers and children being left over week-ends without the means to buy food?

Mr. Bevin

I am having inquiries made and will communicate with my hon. Friend in due course.

61. Mr. Butcher

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that banks, insurance offices and other institutions which are not of great importance in the prosecution of the war are occupying hotels and large houses in the country and at the seaside; and whether, as these institutions have adequate financial resources to provide reasonable safety for their staff and records in their pre-war premises, he will arrange for the premises that they occupy in reception areas to be taken over by his department for the use of children, invalids and the aged and other persons it is desirable to move from evacuation areas?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

Yes, Sir. I am aware that a considerable number of firms, many of which are doing work of great national importance, have taken premises in reception areas as emergency offices. If it is found in any reception area that a local authority cannot secure accommodation for evacuated persons without the use of particular premises, I am prepared to consider the requisitioning of the premises.

Mr. Butcher

Is my right hon. Friend aware that much of the accommodation provided for children, young people, and mothers with large families, is quite unsuitable, while this hotel accommodation would be ideal, and will he bring these financial companies back to participate in the risks which Parliament, the newspapers, and everybody else share?

Mr. MacDonald

In general, as I say, I am prepared to consider all these cases where there is a real need on account of the presence of evacuees. I cannot go further than that general assurance. If my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind, I will be very glad to look into it.

62 and 63. Mr. Horabin

asked the Minister of Health (1) the reasons for the delay in furnishing Belsfield evacuation hostel, Newquay, with decency and modest comfort, in view of the fact that his attention was drawn to the bad conditions in this hostel as long ago as last November; and why the furniture stored in two rooms in the hostel had not been requisitioned for the purpose;

(2) whether he is aware that auctioneers in Newquay have refused to sell furniture to the evacuation authority required for the use of evacuees; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. MacDonald

Clerks of local authorities have power to requisition furniture. If the Clerk of the Newquay Urban District Council has doubts about the articles which he can requisition, or has difficulty in obtaining them, he should at once consult the Ministry's Senior Regional Officer. I am obtaining information with regard to the alleged refusal of auctioneers in Newquay to sell furniture required for the use of evacuees. With regard to Belsfield hostel, I am told that much of the furniture required for the needs of the evacuees has been supplied, and additional articles have been ordered and will be installed shortly. My regional officers have visited the hostel, and inform me that the evacuees are satisfied that the additional articles to be supplied will meet their requirements.

Mr. Horabin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at Belsfield there have been three matrons during the last two months, that the third resigned because of the intolerable conditions in that hostel last month, and that things are in a really shocking condition there at present? It is scandalous, and it has been going on for months.

Mr. MacDonald

The first part of the hon. Member's question is another matter, and I should like to have notice of it. With regard to the general state of affairs in the hostel, I can only say that my officers have been down and have inspected it, and that they regard the hon. Member's statements as an exaggeration. The answer I have given is a statement of the present position.

Mr. Horabin

In view of the unsatisfactory reply, I propose to raise this question at the earliest possible opportunity.