HC Deb 09 March 1944 vol 397 cc2199-200
77. Mr. Foster

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that his Department has refused to de-requisition a certain miners' institute urgently required for miners' welfare purposes and that urgent representations have been made by the colliery company, the workmen and the Miners' Welfare Commission; and will he give instructions for the Home Guard company to be accommodated elsewhere in order that the needs of 2,000 mineworkers, together with optants and conscripts drafted to this area, might be met.

Mr. A. Henderson

This question has been very carefully considered with all those concerned and every endeavour has been made to find alternative acommodation for the Home Guard. I am advised that this could only be provided by new building and with the present shortage of labour this is, I regret, impossible. The military authorities will, however, allow the dance hall to be used by arrangement for social and welfare functions when it is not needed for military purposes. In the difficult circumstances of this case no other solution seems possible and I therefore very much hope that this compromise will enable both parties to carry out their functions.

Mr. Foster

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is in the neighbourhod a disused factory which could be adapted for this purpose, and does he not think that it is to be regretted that so many miners and optants and some of the Bevin boys who have been drafted to this district should be deprived of recreational facilities?

Mr. Henderson

I certainly appreciate the difficulties to which my hon. Friend refers but I hope he will allow this compromise to work out in the hope that it will be successful. I might point out that not the whole building has been requisitioned. The bar and the billiards room and other public rooms, for example, have not been requisitioned.

Sir H. Williams

As there are about 80,000 coal miners not doing any work, could not they build a new place?

Mr. Tom Brown

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that within 200 yards of this place there is a disused mill, serving no purpose at all?

Mr. Gallacher

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at the last Question on the Paper, he will see that a new building has been erected in another area, for a different purpose.