§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
My Lords, I rise to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that in Lichfield Barracks one bedroom only is allotted to married people with two children, and that in some cases where the whole family have to sleep in the one room, the mothers are in an advanced stage of consumption; whether it is in the power of local sanitary authorities to take action in such cases; and to move for a Return showing the state of things in other barracks.
I think it is only fair to state that the moment notice was called to this case action was taken, but I do think this is a matter of so serious a character that it ought not to be left to an individual to draw attention to it. I know quite well that there are two types of barracks, the old construction type and the new construction type, and that Lichfield barracks come within the former category. I understand that in a great many of the barracks of the old construction the state of things is as bad as, if not worse than, in Lichfield Barracks, and I therefore make no apology for calling attention to this matter. I think the state of the married quarters in these barracks ought to be generally known, and I hope the noble Earl will agree to the presentation of the Return for which I ask.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, in reply to my noble friend, I will deal first with that part of his Question which refers to consumptive mothers occupying the same sleeping apartment as the rest of the family. I find on investigation that two such cases did 477 occur at Lichfield, but as soon as this was brought to notice, orders were immediately given for further accommodation, and this was done by placing other families on the lodging list, i.e., giving them lodgings outside barracks. The two women in question now occupy separate rooms in the quarters allotted for their respective families. At the same time I should like to point out that at Lichfield there are thirty-four married quarters which contain two bedrooms and ten which contain three bedrooms.
As regards the general question, the Army Council fully recognise the importance of the adequate provision of suitable married quarters, but to bring all the present quarters fully up to modern standards cannot be done in a day. In part 1, Vote 10, Army Estimates of 1906–7, an item of £95,000 stands for the general improvement of married quarters, and we expect to spend £12,300 in the present financial year; that is to say, we recognise generally the necessity of improvements, as soon as money is available, to the extent of £95,000. As regards the power of local sanitary authorities to take action, I am informed that under Section 327, sub-section 2, of the Public Health Act, 1875, the local civil authorities have no power of entering into or interference with War Department property, whether in the occupation of the War Department or its tenants.
Concerning the state of things in other barracks about which my noble friend asks for a Return, I understand that there are altogether 13,390 married quarters. Of these 1,874 are one-room quarters, and of these there are two in Lichfield; 7,713 are two-room quarters; 3,060 quarters consisting of three rooms and a scullery; and 743 four-room quarters. As I have already said, my colleagues on the Army Council fully recognise the need for improvement in this matter, and I can assure my noble friend that it is a question which is constantly before the minds of the authorities.
§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
I am obliged to my noble friend for his Answer, but I think that in a case of this kind 478 the local sanitary inspector should have right of entry. The noble Earl did not say whether he would grant the Return.
§ House adjourned at half-past Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, at quartet-past Four o'clock.