HC Deb 29 January 1941 vol 368 cc553-4
43. Sir E. Cadogan

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in a number of centres where His Majesty's Forces and civil servants are billeted, accommodation is inadequate in view of the fact that self-evacuees have appropriated the greater part of the accommodation available; and whether he will exercise more effective control over billeting arrangements so that those who have no object in occupying these centres except their own security should be ejected in favour of those who are engaged upon war service.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Horsbrugh)

My right hon. Friend is aware that large numbers of persons who do not need to remain in the evacuation areas in the national interest have adopted the suggestion of the Government and made their own arrangements for accommodation in the reception areas, in many cases with relatives and friends. The billeting needs of the various Departments concerned are already co-ordinated, centrally, regionally and in the local districts. My right hon. Friend has already made an Order in respect of one district, designed to secure that accomodation shall be provided only for certain categories of persons, and Orders in respect of other districts are in preparation. He will not hesitate to make similar Orders for any district where the conditions require it.

Sir E. Cadogan

In view of the fact that complaints of this nature are continually being made, will my hon. Friend give an assurance that the Ministry will encourage billeting officers to make fuller use of their existing powers to secure accommodation for the Forces and for war workers?

Miss Horsbrugh

I can give an assurance that the powers will be used. The matter is constantly under review, and more co-ordination is taking place between all the Services whose personnel has to be billeted.

Mr. Simmonds

Is my hon. Friend quite sure that when these Orders are made the local authorities carry them out without fear or favour?

Miss Horsbrugh

As I have said, only one Order has been made, and that is being carried out.

Sir J. Lamb

Is my hon. Friend aware that certain Departments are taking over large buildings and doing nothing with them? For instance, there is one at Stafford which was taken over last March by the military.