HC Deb 03 August 1944 vol 402 cc1571-5
2. Mr. E. J. Williams

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will issue instructions to man-power boards in reception areas to revise the decisions on redundancy in the distributive trades and local government offices, consequent on work entailed on billeting and feeding the increased population.

Mr. Bevin

No, Sir. I am satisfied that the existing procedure is adequate to meet the situation. Where it can be claimed that a change of circumstances justifies the reconsideration of an earlier decision, it is open to employers to make representations to that effect, either directly to my officers, or through the representative of the interested Government Department.

Mr. Williams

May I put it to the Minister that in the last few weeks the large number of evacuees, particularly in South Wales, calls for additional man-power; and cannot the right hon. Gentleman reverse the decision of the man-power board without troubling employers or employees to make individual application?

Mr. Bevin

If my hon. Friend followed my answer, he would have seen that if circumstances change it is open to employers to make representations to that effect, either directly to my officers or through the interested Government Department.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Have not the trade unions from time to time made representations to the Department about denuding staffs in retail shops?

Mr. Bevin

That is a different question. I am asked to revise the decision owing to evacuation. Evacuation is a changing factor, and my answer makes it clear that if circumstances change, representations can be made to the man-power board.

Mr. Williams

As we have had these thousands of evacuees in South Wales in the last few weeks, is that not a factor that ought to be taken into consideration now?

Mr. Bevin

I cannot give a general answer applying to the whole country, especially where the circumstances apply only to particular localities.

20. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health whether further consideration can be given to the financial difficulties arising through evacuation; and, in particular, the case of extra grants for those men with relatively low wages whose wives and families have been evacuated and who are involved in substantially heavier commitments because of this.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Willink)

I am not satisfied that the existing financial arrangements under the Government evacuation scheme need modification, and I could not adopt the suggestion made in the last part of the Question.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the Minister not think that there may be circumstances of very grave hardship indeed, and in that case the man sometimes has to bring his wife back because he cannot afford to keep up two homes? Could he not make an arrangement to deal with cases of particular hardship?

Mr. Willink

No man requires to keep up two homes in respect of a wife who is evacuated. There is a billeting allowance payable in respect of any such wife. I quite agree there is very great hardship in parting with one's wife.

53. Mr. E. J. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will advise local education authorities in the reception areas to continue their feeding arrangements for evacuated child as their own children throughout the holiday period.

The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Butler)

Yes, Sir. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of an administrative memorandum which was circulated on 1st August to local education authorities asking them to maintain their school feeding arrangements for evacuated children and others during the holidays.

Mr. Lipson

Is the instruction purely permissive or is it compulsory?

Mr. Butler

I will send the hon. Member also a copy of the memorandum, and he will see.

7. Mr. Pritt

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the special dangers to which permanent invalids, particularly those who have difficulties of movement, are exposed in the areas at present subject to bombing; and whether, seeing that such persons should not in general remain in such areas and that their voluntary evacuation presents especial difficulty, he will classify them as entitled to official evacuation.

Mr. Willink

Yes, Sir. Arrangements are proceeding for the removal from danger areas of a certain number of permanent invalids already in institutional accommodation. For other infirm and invalid persons, the Government evacuation scheme provides for the issue of travel warrants and billeting certificates if they can arrange for their own accommodation in safer areas. While I have approached the problem with every desire to deal with it sympathetically, I regret that with the resources available I could not hold out hope that it would be possible to undertake the organised evacuation of all the persons to whom this Question relates.

Mr. Pritt

Would the Minister realise that "voluntary evacuation," to people who cannot get voluntary evacuation, means just nothing whatever, and that these people are a great nuisance in times of danger to everybody else and to themselves? In the light of what the Prime Minister said yesterday about evacuation, I hope the Minister will not always say, "No, I cannot."

Mr. Willink

I have not said "No, I cannot." I have indicated that I have moved a considerable number of people in this class. I appreciate the difficulties of permanent invalids and their relations. Many local authorities and friendly persons are endeavouring to find accommodation which would come under the heading of private arrangements. I cannot undertake to find accommodation and care for all invalids in London.

Captain Gammans

Will these arrangements apply to men who have been wounded, especially men who have been discharged from the Forces on account of neurosis?

Mr. Willink

My hon. and gallant Friend asked a Question on that point last week. It applies to all invalids.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

While understanding the great difficulties involved, may I ask whether my right hon. and learned Friend will pay attention to those who are living alone? I understand that he cannot evacuate them, but will he use his good offices to see that they have companionship during raids?

Mr. Willink

That is not an easy matter to organise. Those living alone will mostly be able-bodied people who are capable of looking after themselves. I have set up a panel of an expert character which will deal with those cases in the invalid class in the first priority.

Mr. Pritt

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment in about seven weeks' time.