HC Deb 24 June 1954 vol 529 cc584-5
39. Sir R. Acland

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions exist for requiring or encouraging building owners, whether private individuals, limited companies, or public institutions, to incorporate reinforced basements in the buildings which they put up so as to serve as air-raid shelters in the event of hostilities; how many buildings with such reinforced basements have been erected in the last two years for which figures are available; and what provisions are made as to payment of part or all of any additional cost which may be involved in reinforcing the basements of such buildings.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

There are at present no powers to require the incorporation of reinforced basements in new buildings, and there is no provision for the payment from public funds of any part of the additional cost where such precautions are incorporated voluntarily by a developer.

Applicants for building licences have in suitable cases been invited by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works to incorporate such structural precautions, but I am unable to say how many buildings with reinforced basements have been erected in recent years.

The desirability of having a general requirement to incorporate structural precautions in new buildings has been considered from time to time, both by the late Government and by the present Government, and the matter will be re-examined as part of the general review of Civil Defence plans which is now proceeding.

Sir R. Acland

Is it to be wondered that ordinary people are not wildly enthusiastic about voluntary Civil Defence duties when the Government make such a very dim answer in connection with such an obvious precaution as this?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not think so. There is plenty for them to do, apart from this.

Mr. Noel-Baker

In his review of the matter, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman regard it as a major policy objective to increase the number of such reinforced basements and to make them available in peace-time as parking places for cars?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I shall certainly see that that matter is considered.