HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc549-51
19. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the steps which are being taken in the United States of America to build atomic bomb shelters and to combine them with underground garages; and what is the present policy with regard to the provision of air-raid shelters in this country in connection with defence schemes.

Mr. de Freitas

The construction of underground car parks which would serve as shelters if need arose has been considered both in the United States and here. As regards the general question of shelter provision in this country, local authorities were asked last December to make a survey to determine their shelter needs. The survey is not due to be completed until later in the year, and at the moment I cannot add to the full statement which my right hon. Friend made on 9th November.

Mr. Janner

Will my hon. Friend consult with his colleagues to see that when licences are given for underground garages or similar buildings provision is made for shelter? Further, can my hon. Friend say how far this matter has proceeded in the United States?

Mr. de Freitas

To the first question the answer is that I will do so. As to the second, as far as I know, although there has been a great deal of discussion in the newspapers and elsewhere, none of these underground car parks has been begun in the United States.

Earl Winterton

In view of the very elaborate precautions which were taken before the last war, to which some of us were privy in our official capacities, would the hon. Gentleman tell the House what liaison there is between his Department and the corresponding department of the United States Government from the point of view of discussing the precautions which are taken in both countries?

Mr. de Freitas

The very closest indeed. My right hon. Friend and I, only a few weeks ago, saw the United States' Federal Director; and we are in full touch through our experts.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In these conversations with the United States authorities will my hon. Friend raise the question of pooling the materials likely to be required, because we shall be in greater danger from atomic weapons?

Mr. Duncan Sandys

Have the Government yet decided upon the type of household shelter which would be issued in the event of hostilities——

Mr. Ellis Smith

We want the houses first.

Mr. Sandys

—and, if so, whether production arrangements have yet been made?

Mr. de Freitas

That is now being considered.

Mr. Sandys

Has nothing been decided?