HC Deb 29 May 1941 vol 371 cc1974-6
17. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Home Secretary who is directly responsible in each area which has suffered an air-raid for immediate advice and sympathetic assistance to the people affected, for moving their furniture, for the provision of food, etc.; and will he call the responsible Ministers together to review the situation, in the light of experience, and take steps to improve the machinery at once?

Mr. H. Morrison

Local authorities are responsible both for immediate advice and practical assistance to those who have suffered in air-raids, and most of them have established information or administrative centres for this purpose. The Government Departments concerned with such questions as feeding, housing and relief are in close contact through their regional representatives with the responsible local authorities. In reply to the second part of the Question, the position is that Ministers keep these arrangements under steady observation, with a view to the introduction of improvements, where necessary.

Mr. Smith

I recently had an experience of moving among broken-hearted people who had suffered as a consequence of the local authorities not carrying out their responsibilities. In cases of this kind will my right hon. Friend give personal attention to the issues arising out of the question in order to prevent a repetition of that kind of thing?

Mr. Morrison

I do, but if my hon. Friend will take the obvious course of letting me have the particulars of that case, I will at once go into it.

Mr. Thorne

Is it not the obligation of the A.R.P. controller to see that these things are done properly?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, it is part of his duty.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

Is it part of the duty of the controller to see that these things are done?

Mr. Morrison

Certainly, it is the duty of the A.R.P. controller to stimulate the general efficiency of all these services, as well as being the duty of the appropriate Government Departments.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is it not the responsibility and duty of the Regional Commissioners to see that the best preparations are made to deal with situations of this description?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, that is well known, and they do it.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that areas which have not had heavy bombardments learn the lessons of those that have?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot be sure, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we do our best in the matter.

35. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Health whether he can give a list of local authorities who have not yet prepared houses for the accommodation of air-raid victims; who have not appointed welfare officers; is any check kept on the preparation made in each locality; and what steps are taken to deal with local authorities that do not comply with Government circulars?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Ernest Brown)

Local authorities have been requested to prepare houses for the accommodation of air-raid victims in areas where such provision is appropriate and to appoint information or welfare officers at the rest centres, and, in general, the local authorities have been prompt to take the necessary action. The service for the homeless is, however, a continuously developing one, and for this reason I regret that the information asked for in the first two parts of the Question is not readily available. My Department's regional officers are in close and constant consultation with the authorities to secure that the arrangements made are adequate.

Mr. Smith

In cases where local authorities do not accept their responsibilities or carry out their duties in accordance with the instructions sent out by the Ministry, what steps are taken to see that they do carry them out?

Mr. Brown

I have no knowledge of any such case. I have been round 10 of the Civil Defence regions in the last 14 weeks, and I am sure that if there had been a case of this kind, I should have heard of it. I do not say that I am fully satisfied with the adequacy of the arrangements made in all places, but we shall have a chance of discussing the subject after the Recess.