HC Deb 25 March 1941 vol 370 cc412-3
24. Captain McEwen

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction that exists, particularly among the smaller boroughs in country districts, at the careless interpretation frequently given by the military authorities to the black-out regulations; and whether, with a view to the safety of the civilian population, a stricter enforcement will be imposed?

Captain Margesson

I am aware of the importance of this matter, and steps have been taken to impress upon all concerned the importance of complying with the regulations. A recent instruction provides for a systematic inspection of all buildings occupied by troops both shortly after the official time for black-out and periodically during the hours of darkness. Disciplinary action is invariably taken against offenders.

Captain McEwen

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind that this complaint applies not only to troops in billets, but also to troops in camps in the neighbourhood of these boroughs?

Sir W. Davison

And will the attention of commanding officers be drawn to camp fires that are lit, to see that the embers are stamped out before black-out occurs?

Captain Margesson

The troops have to obey the black-out regulations exactly the same as civilians.

Mr. Spens

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend try to have some method put into operation in each town and village so that air-raid wardens and civilians can report to a responsible officer when lights are showing, as the difficulty at present is that no one knows to whom to report, and when complaint is made the Army authorities say they have no power to deal with the matter?

Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

In view of the fact that manoeuvres are beginning all over the country, will my right hon. and gallant Friend send out special orders to the troops in regard to this matter?

Captain Margesson indicated assent.

Mr. Bellenger

Can the Minister say whether inspections are to be made by the military authorities or whether the Civil Defence bodies have any authority in this matter?

Captain Margesson

No, Sir; it is the military authorities.