HC Deb 05 October 1944 vol 403 cc1111-5
24. Mr. Higgs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will permit lights to be shown in factories and industrial buildings situated in the Midlands between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in order to do away with the black-out in the numerous buildings which are not being used for nightshift.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The recent relaxations for domestic lighting apply equally to factories. I regret that, for obvious reasons, the Government cannot yet relax all restrictions during any part of the black-out period; but I shall not hesitate to take any opportunity which arises of making any further relaxations which are possible without prejudice to national security.

Mr. Higgs

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many industrial workers during the winter do not see daylight between Monday and Saturday? Does he not consider that the removal of the permanent black-out would be beneficial to health and production?

Mr. Morrison

We have done what we could to ease the situation. I will keep the matter under review, but I do not think, at this stage, it would be wise to make a major breach of this character in the black-out.

Mr. Bowles

Would my right hon. Friend consider removing the little crosses on the traffic lights and allowing them to show at their proper strength?

Mr. Morrison

That is another question altogether.

Mr. Thorne

Has my right hon. Friend any reason for keeping the lighting restrictions on when the flying bombs make no distinction between light and darkness?

Mr. Morrison

I quite agree. But my hon. Friend is not sure, I take it, that we may not be attacked by piloted aircraft.

26. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he has any statement to make as to the removal or diminution in the severity of the black-out regulations.

Mr. H. Morrison

There is nothing which I can add at present to the Answer which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary gave to a similar Question by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) on 26th September.

Sir I. Fraser

Will not the right hon. Gentleman give full consideration to the question whether, on balance, the loss of life and limb and health and temper might not be less, if we went back to full lights and took a chance, now that the enemy is in such a bad way; and particularly will he consider the position on the roads?

Mr. Morrison

All these factors are fully considered, and the matter is reviewed steadily as we go on. I want to lift the thing entirely as quickly as I can, but I do not want to bring to the population of London raids which could otherwise be avoided.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the perpetuation of the black-out in London due to deliberate policy, or to delay in introducing new apparatus? Mr. Morrison: We are in a difficulty about apparatus to secure better lighting. The local authorities are presented with an exceedingly difficult task. I am inclined to think that, for practical reasons, it may be a choice between maintaining things as they are and going back to full lighting as soon as it becomes a sound policy.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Will my right hon. Friend consider making an appeal to householders to remove the unnecessary severity of the black-out, with a view to assisting pedestrians to see their way about the streets?

Mr. Morrison

We gave the relaxation largely for that purpose, but householders have their own practical difficulties. The curious thing is that in some parts, the black-out is now more effective than it was before the relaxation. That, in itself, has some significance in relation to the state of public opinion.

Sir H. Williams

Is it not due to the fact that as soon as the hooter goes, you have to put the black-out up?

24. Mr. Morrison

Not entirely by any means. 29. Mr. Jewson asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now relax the restrictions on headlights of motor-cars.

Mr. H. Morrison

I have considered carefully whether restrictions on motor car headlamps could now be relaxed, but I fear there is no satisfactory intermediate stage between the use of masked headlamps and the use of full headlights. The latter would be visible from great distances and would mark out main roads and towns from the air. Dazzle to other road users would be seriously increased and the change to masked headlights on an alert or on passing into specially vulnerable areas would be impracticable. On the other hand, it would be obviously dangerous to insist that headlamps should be switched off altogether on an alert. I am afraid, therefore that the restrictions on motor car headlights cannot at present foe relaxed.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Minister of War Transport is aware that a great many American trucks landed in this country have no dimmers and that it is positively dangerous to meet a convoy on the road at night?

Mr. Morrison

That is, of course, one of the facts in the case which I put to the House. I am very sorry about it and I will look into it, but I am afraid that this must be the position generally at the moment. If I can relax it later I will.

Mr. Sorensen

What does my right hon. Friend mean by "looking into it"? Is it not the case that a large number of American cars are blazing along the roads with greater illumination than our cars are allowed?

Mr. Morrison

When I say I will look into it, I mean I will examine it. The Ministry of War Transport is involved and also, I imagine, the police and the Service Departments.

Lieut.-Colonel Thornton-Kemsley

Will my right hon. Friend use his good offices with the War Department to ensure that military vehicles are brought into line in the interests of public safety and are allowed the same lighting which is allowed for civilian vehicles?

Mr. Morrison

I will do that.

Mr. Thorne

Will my right hon. Friend give consideration to better lighting for the buses?

Mr. Morrison

I think that has been done.

32. Sir R. Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the reasons for refusing to permit the removal of the painted area of railway carriage windows at the present time, and whether, in view of the fact that this form of black-out in the winter months precludes daylight adequate to enable easy reading, he will now agree to the removal of these black-out areas on the windows of railway passenger rolling stock.

Mr. H. Morrison

Lighting in trains has recently been reviewed with the object of allowing as much light as possible for passengers during the winter. One improvement which has been made is that full lighting without shades is being restored in those carriages fitted with blinds. This important relaxation necessarily involves the retention of the painted area on carriage windows to prevent too great a spill of light.

Sir R. Glyn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the painting on the carriage windows stops practically all light in the dark winter days coming into the carriage and that no experts who have been consulted agree that the present regulations hinder raiders; and will he give further consideration to the matter, considering that the lighting inside the compartments is now only one-third of what it was before the war?

Mr. Morrison

The night lighting in compartments fitted with suitable blinds can be full and without shades. It necessarily follows that there is increased risk of light getting outside. Therefore, the painted portion must remain. If the painted area is all over the window, as my hon. and gallant Friend has indicated, I should think that the railway companies are being a bit out of proportion. I will look into that point. It is possible that the railway companies have overdone it, and if there is anything of that kind I will take it up with them.

Commander Agnew

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend allows good lighting inside buses without the windows being painted, will he allow the same thing in trains?

Mr. Morrison

If my hon. and gallant Friend has seen an R.A.F. aircraft practising at diving on a train, he will realise the difference between trains and buses in this matter.