HC Deb 13 July 1944 vol 401 cc1873-4
27. Mr. John Wilmot

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to open the deep shelters in South London; and upon what basis tickets are being distributed to people to ensure priority to those who have been rendered homeless.

Mr. H. Morrison

One shelter was opened last Sunday evening, another will be opened this evening and a third very shortly. As regards the latter part of the Question, tickets have been made available to certain local authorities for distribution to local residents without adequate shelter, and the local authorities concerned have been given instructions designed to ensure that preference is given to those who have lost their homes.

Mr. Wilmot

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the district the name of which I have communicated to him those regulations are not being observed; that tickets are being distributed to the tube population, and that families recently bombed out, without any homes at all, and with children, are unable to get admission?

Mr. Morrison

The first move was the transfer of the existing tube population to the deep shelter. That was for traffic reasons and reasons of general convenience. But there is a substantial margin beyond that and that was given to local authorities, including the one to which my hon. Friend refers. I rather fancy that the distribution there might have been better done. I have asked the local authority to look into it and see if it can be put right. The tickets are not necessarily permanent.

Mr. Wilmot

Will my right hon. Friend give distinct instructions to local authorities to give priority to homeless people, particularly those with children?

Mr. Morrison

The instructions have been given and, if a local authority has not carried them out, the responsibility must fall there, though we will try to pull them round and get things right. It is only fair to say that the local authorities have been having a pretty heavy time.

Mr. Isaacs

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that the tickets are not restricted to people living in areas immediately adjacent to the shelter but that people in other boroughs have also an opportunity of going to the shelters?

Mr. Morrison

I have raised that point and I agree with my hon. Friend. It is probable that the predominant element will be people living fairly near the shelters but I entirely agree that other boroughs should have a proper chance, and I have given instructions to that effect.

Mr. Walter Edwards

For the information of Members would my right hon. Friend consider publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT the boroughs to which these tickets have been sent, in order that we may be able to question him as to the necessity of their being sent to other boroughs?

Mr. Morrison

It is clear that I cannot do that. That would be unwise. If my hon. Friend would like to know privately, I will inform him.