HC Deb 13 July 1944 vol 401 cc1874-5
38. Mr. Astor

asked the Minister of Health whether accommodation is still being reserved in the London area for French and other Continental refugees; and, if so, whether he will consider other arrangements which will make all such accommodation available for bombed-out Londoners.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Willink)

The bulk of the accommodation to which my hon. Friend refers is being used to house building labour brought into London from the provinces to carry out first-aid repairs to war-damaged houses. A small amount is still being reserved for the purely temporary housing of foreign refugees pending their transfer to other areas. This accommodation is not suitable for the permanent re-housing of persons rendered homeless by bombing.

Mr. Astor

Could it not be used even for the temporary housing of persons rendered homeless by bombing, who are often sleeping in street shelters?

Mr. Willink

This accommodation is not nearly so satisfactory as the large amount of accommodation which is available in rest centres.

Mr. Astor

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that people are pushed out of rest centres after 48 hours and have to go to street shelters?

Mr. Willink

No, Sir. No one is pushed out of a rest centre until he is found accommodation elsewhere.

Mrs. Tate

No accommodation is being found for a great many of them.

39. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the difficulties in providing accommodation both in London and the reception areas, he has, or will, procure a census or secure information both of large houses inadequately utilised and property that has been or should be evacuated by troops to enable the buildings to be used for accommodation of civilians.

Mr. Willink

Local authorities keep the position in their areas under constant review by means of survey and otherwise, in connection with their powers for the accommodation of civilians, and I see no reason for any special directions on this matter. The question whether houses occupied by troops can be released is one for the military authorities, but arrangements will be made to secure that any such houses released are used in the most suitable manner in the national interest.

Mr. Sorensen

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware, when he says he is going to provide information with regard to the last part of my Question, that it falls within his own province?

Mr. Willink

I informed my hon. Friend a week or two ago that as soon as arrangements with the War Office were completed I would give him that information. That moment has not arrived.