HC Deb 18 January 1944 vol 396 cc25-6
41. Mr. Harry Thorneycroft

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that in Manchester the hostels providing sleeping accommodation for members of His Majesty's Forces are insufficient; that as a result many Servicemen in transit and on leave in the city cannot get a bed and have to sleep on chairs or on the floors of hostels or canteens, or in air-raid shelters or on railway platforms, or to walk the streets all night; that this state of affairs is known to the Army Welfare Committee for the Manchester area and to the command welfare officer, Western Command; and what steps are being taken to improve conditions.

78. Mr. Hewlett

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that at a recent representative meeting, held under the chairmanship of the Lord Mayor of Manchester, at which representatives of the Army Welfare Committee were present, it was admitted that there was an acute shortage of hostel sleeping accommodation for members of His Majesty's Forces in Manchester; that, subsequent to the meeting, the Army Welfare Committee made suggestions that one of the hostels in Manchester should provide the capital expenditure for the provision of 600 additional beds; and whether he will bear this financial responsibility and not leave it to the ratepayers of Manchester or the charitably minded citizens of Manchester and district.

Sir J. Grigg

The shortage of sleeping accommodation in Manchester arises mainly from the influx of Allied and British troops on leave in the city. The Minister of Works is now providing 1,000 additional beds for American personnel, which it is hoped will ease the general situation. I am endeavouring to find suitable premises for extra dormitory accommodation near the railway station, but as all building labour available to the War Department is at present concentrated on most urgent operational work I am afraid it may not be possible to make any extra provision in the near future.

Mr. Thorneycroft

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that as recently as last Saturday night 75 British soldiers had to be housed in an air raid shelter in the centre of the City, that this situation has been going on for some time, and that there will be no improvement until the officer in charge of welfare at Chester has been removed?