HL Deb 10 December 1940 vol 118 cc74-90

The LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER rose to call attention to problems arising out of the evacuation of the homeless and others after air raids, and to move for Papers. The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I venture to draw the attention of your Lordships' House to some of the problems which arise in connection with the evacuation of large numbers of people who have been living in areas which have recently been the subject of enemy attack. Large numbers have been rendered homeless, and there are large numbers of others who for other reasons have left their homes. This movement away from the towns in question raises a number of difficult problems. Some of these problems have been faced with considerable success, and I should be very sorry if it were thought that because I introduced this subject I regarded the arrangements which have been made for the homeless as entirely unsatisfactory. I think that a great deal has been done, both by officials who are already often overpressed with all kinds of other problems and also by a great army of voluntary workers, who have been ready to give time and service to alleviate the lot of those who have so suddenly been made homeless. Notwithstanding this, however, there are problems which are of real gravity and which ought to be faced.

I think that most of these problems arise from lack of co-ordination between the various authorities concerned—sometimes between the Ministry of Health and the local authorities, and sometimes between the local authorities themselves. Perhaps I can make this clearer if I give in outline what usually happens to those who have been bombed from their houses. They are removed at once to shelters where they spend a night or two, and they are there provided with food and warmth. Often the buildings to which they are moved are not very satisfactory, and that cannot always be helped, because in an emergency it is not always possible to choose the most suitable buildings for the purpose. There are two things that I would say about these buildings in which temporary shelter is provided. I think it is of great importance that if possible the buildings should be some distance from the area which was actually raided; and secondly, they should be provided with air-raid shelters. I say this because in London at any rate there have been two or three cases in which the unhappy people were moved to schools or halls which a few hours afterwards were bombed. It is not, of course, always possible to remove people some distance away, but that should be done wherever it is possible, and in every case there should be some adequate shelter against an unexpected raid.

Then there starts at once the work of registering those who desire to be evacuated and sending them out. This work, of course, is done by the borough or city in which the raid took place, and on the whole has been done excellently, both by the officials concerned and also by voluntary organisations. But even here there have been various difficulties which, I think, might easily have been avoided. For instance, time is sometimes wasted by people who are applying for evacuation being sent from one authority to another. A mother comes with her children and asks if they may be evacuated, and in some cases she is sent to the headquarters of the education authority some way off; or time has sometimes been wasted in finding the right person who has to sign the railway voucher. And I have actually known cases in which cars to take people away were all collected, and it was impossible for some hours to find the person who would give the necessary authority for their transport.

All these are minor matters, but they add to confusion and difficulty. But more serious difficulties arise when these people are moving away from the place at which they were bombed to towns or villages elsewhere. They then come into contact with a number of different authorities—with the public assistance authorities, with the urban councils, and with the rural district councils; and unless there is the closest co-ordination between these various bodies all sorts of difficulties inevitably arise. Some time ago a number of people, I think 1,500, were moved and, without any previous announcement, came to a town which was already overcrowded. Quite recently I have known of a case in which 500 people who were being moved to a large country village arrived there quite unexpectedly. There was no suitable accommodation for them, and it was almost impossible for them to obtain it until midday the next day. That kind of thing perhaps does not happen to a large extent, but one hears from time to time of cases where a number of evacuees suddenly arrive at some place where no preparation has been made for them. Then as a rule when the evacuees arrive at a reception area they have to go to a hall or school for a night or two before being sent to more permanent dwellings.

Difficulties also often arise as to who is responsible for the sanitary arrangements of these halls. Occasionally the sanitary arrangements of the halls, though quite sufficient for the ordinary use to which these halls are put, are quite inadequate when there are a hundred or more people living and sleeping in the hall for two or three days, and the condition of some of these refugees has really been almost deplorable when they have been put to sleep night after night in these halls before arrangements can be made for their removal. The difficulty arises as to who is responsible for these sanitary arrangements. The public assistance authority occasionally, I believe, have told the city council that they are the people who are responsible. The city authorities who own the hall say, "This is only for temporary use; we are not responsible." 1 have known definite instances where there has been friction in these matters. I believe the real answer is that the public assistance authority are responsible, but they are not allowed by the Treasury to spend any money in these respects previous to the use of these halls. Only after they have been used is public money allowed to be spent on additional sanitary accommodation.

In some towns difficulties arise between the various authorities on small irritating points. In one town suddenly, late at night, voluntary workers were told that 100 evacuees were arriving and blankets were required for them. The civic authorities said, "We have not got the blankets, the blankets are owned by the county authorities and kept in a storehouse only a few yards away." They tried to get these blankets. The county authorities did not know late in the evening the address of the man who had the key of the storehouse where there were a thousand blankets. This is only a trifling illustration of the kind of difficulty which may arise through lack of co-operation.

Then there comes a much more serious difficulty. The moment arrives when these people are to be removed from these halls. Sometimes, your Lordships should note, they are in these halls for quite a long period, not only for a few days. I notice that not long ago a correspondent in The Times stated that there was a cinema which for several weeks had at first a thousand people living in it and latterly 600 people making it their home. But the difficulty of finding these people accommodation elsewhere is very great because, through lack of co-operation between the various authorities, all the available houses have been taken over for various purposes. Sometimes they have been taken over by the military, sometimes by great firms which have removed from the cities, sometimes by education authorities or by private schools. This is very well brought out in a letter from a chief reception officer which appeared in The Times of November 25. He says, referring to a leading article in that newspaper: You mention in your leading article only such contingents as refugees (billetable evacuees), soldiers, and civilian workers (war factory expansion and dispersal) as competing for accommodation without co-ordination. This very much understates the case as regards this reception area, and I expect as regards others. Other heavy contingents 'in this scramble' are Government Departments, non-war industrial concerns, educational establishments, Service trainees and non-billetable evacuees from all parts, some from other reception areas who think our district, may be 'healthier.' No check is placed on these movements into reception areas or the absorption by this personnel of billets into which we should like to put the pitiful, billetable bombed and homeless. In some cases the billeting authority has no knowledge of these immigrations until they are arranged without reference to any co-ordinating authority. That is, I think, a very real difficulty.

Here in passing I should like to, ask the noble Lord who is replying whether there is any large number of vacant houses which might be used for this purpose. From time to time I am told there are large numbers of vacant large houses which might be taken over. I do not know of them myself, but there is a general impression that there are such houses and, if so—certainly if they are suitable—they ought to be taken over. Personally I am inclined to think that most of them have been already taken over for other purposes, but it is quite clear that a good deal more co-operation is needed between the various authorities if evacuation is to work smoothly.

Then there is another point on which I should like to know the views of the Government. What has been done in the way of providing community centres for these people? This is a matter of real importance. A number of these people are accustomed to town life and get extremely bored with the country. It would make a great deal of difference to them if they could find some place in which they could meet together for recreation and for rest, and incidentally it would be a rest for the people on whom they are billeted. It is specially important that there should be some community meals arranged which these people would have in common at one of these centres. I find that one of the most irksome things felt by those who have these people living with them is the fact that they have to provide hot meals for them. It is the hot meals in the middle of the day which are difficult. I heard quite recently of a large modern housing estate the tenants of which had welcomed the evacuees and shown every kind of good will towards them, but they found the providing of a mid-day meal a real difficulty. It would solve their difficulty if, in all these places, centres could be formed where the mid-day meal could be had in common. Equally important is the provision of emergency nurseries for the children under five years of age. In January of this year the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education issued a circular in which they held out every hope that in the near future there would be established a number of emergency nursery schools. I am not sure how many of these have already been established, but I hear frequently of the need for them, and I do know of cases where houses have been taken over for use as hostels in connection with these schools. This is one of the ways in which real relief could be given to these people.

These are some of the problems—there are many others—which arise in connection with these people who are homeless. There is the greatest sympathy for them, the greatest desire to help them everywhere. Both in official and voluntary circles there is real keenness to do everything that can be done for these unhappy people who often have lost all they possessed and sometimes are suffering from shock. I am convinced that, though much has been done, a good deal more can be done to make their way smooth. It is important not only for their own sake that things should be made as tolerable as possible for them, but also so as to encourage further evacuation from the towns. If any of these people find themselves unhappy in their new surroundings and return to the towns, with no doubt exaggerated accounts of the hardships they have had to endure, it discourages others from coming out. A special correspondent of The Times who has been investigating these matters says: Something more than appeals to go, however persuasively phrased and put, is needed if London is to be more satisfactorily cleared of children, together with many mothers, and aged and infirm people. … The chief need is for the Ministry of Health to show as much concern for adequate arrangements in safer areas as it has shown about exhortations to leave the Capital. As long as the Ministry contents itself with such appeals and fails to supervise what is being done in the reception areas, so long will hundreds of children continue to sleep fitfully in the Tubes and the old and infirm spend uncomfortable nights in water-logged trenches. And the new drift back to the Capital, already begun, will rapidly grow larger.

It is for these reasons that I hope the Ministry may set itself to solve the problems which still remain. It does seem to me that what you really require in every one of these districts is some one person who is expert in these matters and who is armed with authority to deal with these various questions. If you have one person with authority, helped, of course, by others around him, it will make all the difference. That is what you so often find in these districts. You go from one person to another to find who is respon- sible. That sometimes happens even in the halls to which these people have been evacuated. You find people responsible for the cooking, for the entertainment, and so on, but it is most difficult to find the person who is really responsible for running the whole organisation and who can, if necessary, give directions. That is what you want on the larger scale as well as on the small scale in all these areas to which evacuation has taken place. I cannot see how this problem of lack of co-ordination will be solved unless in each area—possibly under the Regional Commissioner—there is someone who has the authority to act and who knows how to deal with the situation. I beg to move for Papers.


My Lords, before the Government reply, I desire to say something which I know your Lordships will be very glad to hear and which the right reverend Prelate could not, of course, say himself. He does speak with unrivalled knowledge in these matters. I can tell your Lordships that in the Diocese of Winchester, where I hold an official position, I know that on all these occasions of bombardment, notably of Southampton, the right reverend Prelate has been the first on the scene regardless of all danger, regardless of convenience, giving up all his time to these unfortunate people, in order to secure that co-operation for which to-day he pleads. I can only tell him in the presence of your Lordships that every man in Hampshire is grateful to the Lord Bishop for the wonderful example he has set and the services he has rendered. It is only for me to add, following a long way behind him in the course of my duties trying to see what could be done, that it is the fact that Southampton was in some ways the most grievous of these attacks, comparable with Coventry—not so bad in some ways, but worse in others, because of the difficulty of finding alternative accommodation.

I am glad to see that the representative of the War Office is here, and I presume he will reply. There is one word I would respectfully say to him, and I would urge it with all the force I can. Take the case of Southampton. When the thing was very acute the military were soon on the scene and rendered invaluable service, especially when all communications were broken—telephone, telegraph, and other. After a short time, when sappers and dispatch riders had found their way, it was a great help and would, I think, have saved a good deal but for the most unfortunate misunderstanding which caused all these people, or most of them, to be withdrawn and others put in their place who did not know their way about. If an invasion had been impending nobody would have minded, but—it would be almost laughable if it were not pathetic—they were withdrawn because of a "peace exercise." Imagine leaving a real house burning and real people who had to be rescued in order to carry out a sham fight! Everyone who has been through the hard school of war, as so many of your Lordships have been, including myself, would agree that even from the point of view of training for war it is infinitely more valuable to the soldier of all ranks to shore up a real roof and rescue real women and children out of a really burning house than to go through a hundred sham fights where the one real element—imminent danger—is entirely lacking. Men who have seen their officers leading them the right way to save a town would be far better equipped for a real fight than they would be by any number of sham fights.

I know my noble friend shares my view, but an unfortunate misunderstanding has arisen owing largely, I think, to a speech made by the Prime Minister in which, in passing, he said it would be ridiculous to think that the Army would abandon all its training in order to do work that others can do. May I suggest that there is a real distinction to be made, and that if the War Office or the Secretary of State issued instructions it would help greatly in places like Southampton, and might be a cause of saving thousands of lives and millions of pounds worth of property? Instructions should be given—and all soldiers want to receive these instructions—that in moments of great emergency the whole Army that is available and can give real help must do so. When it comes to prolonged assistance such as that required in London by Sir Warren Fisher to clear up all the débris and restore the roads to a better state, that of course must be done by special people, by absorbing the unemployed possibly, and not by using the Army for what may be called a permanent job.

In the name of all those who have suffered I do urge that instructions should be given, which every soldier wishes to receive, that he must go at once and use every power he has to assist. I refer not only to the engineers but to the infantry, to the Service Corps with their lorries, and to every available dispatch rider. If instructions are given to these people thousands of lives and millions of pounds worth of property might be saved. As a noble friend reminds me, the Navy has always in every part of the world where there has been an earthquake or some other great catastrophe given its help. That would always be the rule, but owing to this misunderstanding our soldiers do not quite know if they are entitled to do what they are only too anxious to do. Having said that I would reinforce the plea of the right reverend Prelate to get some man to grip the whole machine. The lack of co-ordination in the town of Winchester and over the greater part of the county in which it is situated has caused much avoidable suffering, and I suggest that if we could get someone in authority to concentrate upon this matter we should get things done in a shorter time.


My Lords, I should not have intervened in this debate but for the concluding portion of the speech of my noble friend opposite. I cannot hold the view that soldiers are not to be used for demolition purposes. To clear the roads is most important for transport, and it is vital to the life of the nation that the main roads in particular should be kept clear. We have had in London an instance of the kind of thing that occurs. At the beginning I personally went to try to get some men to help. As the noble Lord says, in every other country the Army helps at once. At last we got some soldiers, but very few, and we only got them with grudging consent. Finally, however, there was a change of scene. Sir Warren Fisher and other Commissioners were appointed, and we were then promised 5,000 men, and ultimately got 12,000, who are now doing the work in London, while other troops are assisting in other parts of the country. But when the noble Lord (Lord Mottistone) said that you can get other help he is under a gross misapprehension. Every effort was made by the London authorities to get other labour and they could not get it.


Will my noble friend forgive me for intervening? I do not wish to misrepresent the needs of London, which I know. What I was emphasizing was that the Army should act in a case of real emergency. If a road that is damaged represents a case of real emergency then soldiers should go and clear it. It is only because it is being said "You ought to endeavour to get other labour," that I made the remark I did. My meaning was that you should get other labour as soon as you can in order to free the Army.


I do not know anything about Southampton. I quite agree with the general tenor of what the noble Lord has said about obtaining help from the Army. As he rightly pointed out, the Navy do what they can when anything of a catastrophic nature occurs in any part of the world in which they happen to be. As to Southampton there may have been some special reason for what occurred. Perhaps the noble Lord who represents the War Office may make a proper defence of what happened on that unhappy occasion. I do not want to detain your Lordships; indeed I would not have spoken but for what was said by the noble Lord opposite in regard to obtaining other labour. I should like to conclude by saying how much we are all indebted to the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester. The work he has done in London is well known to every Londoner, and the great See of Winchester must be only too thankful he has come there and set such a splendid example.


My Lords, I should like in a few sentences to support the plea which the right reverend Prelate has brought before us. I join with my noble friend in paying a tribute to the work which everyone knows he has led in the diocese to which he is attached and in connection with the disastrous events in Southampton. Like all of us who live in a reception area, he has been confronted at first hand by the numerous difficulties, sometimes of an entirely homely kind, which are met with, but which all the same are difficulties that stand in the way of the proper disposition and reception of these unfortunate people. In the little area in which I live we have had the same kind of thing to contend with but in a different form. I remember that one night hundreds of people had to sit for hours outside a place because nobody knew who was the custodian entitled to open the door.

We all know that this kind of accident cannot be avoided altogether. Exactly the same case some of us made in connection with the health provisions for shelters in London on the discussion of Lord Horder's Report. The weakness is the absence of an authority with power to see that all concerned receive the necessary instructions. That is what is wanted. It is wanted in London and it is wanted in the country. The Minister of Health, unfortunately, has adopted a sort of semi-paralytic attitude right through the whole of this period. His Department has addressed circulars to local authorities and hoped something would happen. With many authorities it does happen. In many cases the local authorities are in front of the Ministry, but it is unfortunately the case that a great many are not, and every one who has taken any interest in this matter knows at first hand cases where the Ministry's circulars have been laid on the table or have gone into the waste paper basket and nothing has happened. What is really wanted, I am quite sure, is that someone should deal with the whole matter. Whether it is the Regional Commissioner or someone else does not matter as far as we are concerned. It does not matter who is appointed so long as he is competent to deal with the whole case. That is what is wanted.

Persistent reliance by the Minister of Health upon the project of sending out circulars is largely responsible for the muddle that has occurred. Once more I would make the plea—I think this is the third time—that the Ministry of Health should have someone—I do not mind who he is—who has been given adequate power both in regard to dealing with shelters in our cities and other matters. Every case which the right reverend Prelate has mentioned only emphasizes the justice of his plea. I do not know what my noble friend from the War Office will say with respect to the points raised by my noble friend below the Gangway. He is not the Minister of Health. I am inclined to wish he were because I am sure he would not be satisfied with what has been done. However, I support with all earnestness and from first-hand knowledge the validity of the plea put before us by the right reverend Prelate.


My Lords, I am sure all your Lordships will agree that we are very much indebted to the right reverend Prelate for his speech to-day and for the suggestions that he has put before us. If I may, I would also like to say, as I am a Hampshire man myself, that when visiting Southampton shortly after this calamity, I heard on all hands of the wonderful example of the right reverend Prelate in that area and of the comfort given by his presence. May I deal very briefly with the suggestions of the noble Lord opposite with regard to the Army? I think it is quite an hallucination for anybody to imagine that the Army has not been ready to help on these occasions. Sometimes it has been suggested that we have been reluctant to lend a hand. I can assure any who have any doubt, that the Army has been very ready to give help wherever possible. With regard to the specific case mentioned, I have not been able to get details, but I happen to know that the military authorities came directly they were called. I am not sure that they did not volunteer.


Yes, I mentioned that.


In the sort of earthquake conditions that were referred to they helped all they could. My noble friend mentioned that they were replaced. I would like to say in explanation that the great peril and danger had been removed with regard to fire and rescue.




I was under that impression, but I safeguarded myself a moment ago by saying that I had no details.


The reservoirs were running dry, and did run dry.


But I would remind my noble friend that it was not an ordinary peace manœuvre in which the military were engaged. It was a very vital war exercise of a character such as we have not been able to have before. For obvious reasons I must not go into that. It would have made a fundamental difference to that exercise and I will leave the matter there. I can assure your Lordships that we are ready to co-operate in every way possible. Various speakers have dealt with the need for a coordination of authorities in each area, and I have no doubt that the suggestions made will be studied by the Ministry of Health; but I want to point out that in fact the Ministry of Health's senior Regional Officer in a case like this is responsible generally, and the Ministry's inspector was on the spot in Southampton the very day after the raid. He has since then been daily operating in that area from Winchester.

I am afraid I must detain your Lordships for a few minutes in order to state the general outline of plans. It is true that the Ministry of Health has had to send out many circulars, but until we have completely abandoned our democratic machinery by which we send out requests to various local authorities, and until we have fallen under a series of minor dictators throughout the country, I think that is the only way we can proceed at the present time. May I just explain that the arrangements for the relief of persons driven out of their homes by air bombardments, which were made just before the outbreak of war, always envisaged that there would be two stages? The first was immediate assistance in the shape of shelter, food and rest for all who had been driven out, and the second was the provision of fresh housing accommodation of a more or less permanent kind for those of the original victims who, after a short stay in the rest centres, could not either return home or make their own arrangements for finding quarters with relatives or friends.

The first of these stages—immediate shelter, rest and food—was made the responsibility of the county and county borough councils. That is not, I think, always understood. These authorities have earmarked buildings such as schools and halls as rest centres for the homeless and have been empowered, if necessary, to requisition suitable buildings for the purpose. They have been instructed to fit up these buildings with equipment for the preparation and service of food. I was sorry to hear a difficulty with regard to blankets mentioned in a specific case. I do not think the Ministry can be blamed for that, because very large stocks of blankets have been issued throughout the country and are held against emergency. Large issues of equipment of various kinds have been made from Government supplies. I may say also that the county and county borough councils have accumulated stocks of food and have made definite arrangements with the Ministry of Food's organisation for securing additional supplies at short notice if these stocks become exhausted.

Here I would say with regard to communal feeding that a circular has been issued to all local authorities urging the establishment of feeding centres where possible, and in many cases that advice has actually been followed. I think that the right reverend Prelate when he goes into the matter, however, will see that there is a very great difficulty owing to the extraordinarily limited number of halls available for that purpose, as I have found in my more normal walk of life at the War Office. Rest centres are staffed mainly by voluntary workers, and instructions have recently been issued that in every rest centre there is to be a trained nurse and also someone made specially responsible for giving information to the homeless about the various forms of assistance which are available to them. For instance, a circular was distributed in Southampton giving, as far as possible, exact advice to all those unhappy people who required it as to what steps they should take. Air raid wardens and police have been instructed to direct homeless people in all these areas to the rest centres.

The great majority of the rest centres throughout the country have at present little or no air-raid protection, I am sorry to say, but that was almost inevitable. Instructions have recently been issued, however, that protection should be provided in target areas, and in many places that work is already in hand. It has also been found that whenever a concentrated attack occurs a fairly high proportion of the rest centres in the area are put out of action—that again is almost inevitable—either by direct damage or by the presence of unexploded bombs. There are, or should be, in all large towns buildings which are not used as rest centres but which are earmarked as reserve centres in case of emergency. It is obvious, however, that the extent and success of the improvisation which is necessary in these cases depend very largely on the initiative of the public assistance officer, or whoever is responsible for operating the scheme.

The scheme was designed with a comparatively short raid in mind, and it was intended that the homeless people should go to the rest centres as soon as the "All Clear" was sounded. What in fact happens is that in these night-long raids very large numbers of people go to their normal shelter, which is their way of life at night now, and the consequence is that they come to the rest centre in the morning, when they are in a much better condition to be able to find out what the organisation is and to make arrangements for themselves than they would have been in the middle of the night, as was originally contemplated. This, in fact, tends to reduce the number of people accommodated at the rest centres in towns which are subjected to heavy and prolonged attack.

The point was raised as to what happens thereafter. In addition to the rest centres in the towns, there are large numbers of centres in the county areas surrounding nearly all the big towns in this country, and these are prepared similarly to those in the towns themselves. The recent raid on Southampton affords, I think, a good example of the use to which they have been put. Where particularly intense and concentrated raids have occurred, it has sometimes been found that the accommodation both in rest centres and in houses in the towns attacked is, in fact, not sufficient, at any rate for the time being, for the people who have been made homeless. Transport is, therefore, arranged in these cases, as far as possible and subject to the conditions in which the towns find themselves when these raids are taking place. I think that on the whole, although I was sorry to hear of one hitch mentioned by the right reverend Prelate, this scheme has worked well. The system of transporting the homeless out of their home towns is an innovation which has been made necessary by the enemy's recent concentrated attacks upon provincial towns, and steps have been taken to ensure that the provision in the county areas surrounding the larger towns is adequate.

It is when the people reach the rest centres that the second stage—more permanent accommodation—begins. This work has been entrusted to the authorities who are most familiar both with housing and with billeting arrangements—namely, the borough (including county borough and metropolitan borough) councils and the urban and rural district councils. The billeting powers of these authorities were at the outbreak of war extended to cover homeless people, and in addition the authorities have been empowered to requisition unoccupied houses for the accommodation of the homeless. I was asked whether there were many unoccupied houses in Southampton.


I did not mean Southampton, but the country generally.


The position varies very much, but the right reverend Prelate was absolutely accurate in saying that many houses have already been requisitioned for special purposes, and this does limit the number. It may interest him to know that in the case in point some 5,000 houses have already been found. He will probably be glad to hear that according to the information which we had on Friday evening last with regard to Southampton, of the 3,800 people who had been received in county rest centres, 1,900 had already been billeted, 600 had made their own arrangements, and 1,300 remained to be billeted. By yesterday we were pleased to hear that only a few hundred remained, and that all the centres in Winchester, except one where there are 200 people, had in fact been cleared. I think that your Lordships will agree that, in view of the extraordinary stress which exists in these cases where there is this new form of attack, on the whole the plan was good, although the great disturbance caused in civic life must, of course, have made it very difficult to apply that plan in the special conditions which existed in Southampton.

The whole scheme with regard to vouchers for travel and for billeting has been worked out, and information ought to be conveyed to these people when they seek advice. I am glad to say that from the grievous lessons we have had—we are learning from experience every day—it has been possible to work very quickly now in the matter of giving general advice to air-raid victims. I shall not detain your Lordships any longer, important though this question is. I will only say in conclusion that all the various points brought forward by the originator of the debate and by those who followed will be very carefully considered. We live, as I have said, in times when we are gaining experience every day. We have had terrible calamities in two or three centres in this country, but on the whole I must say, in justification of the plans which were made, that the recovery of the morale of the people concerned is so great that I think that they realise that big steps have been taken to provide for the emergency.


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for the reply which he has made. In putting this Motion down, I had not mainly Southampton in mind; I had in-tended to bring this matter up long before the Southampton question arose. But, as Southampton has been mentioned, I think it is only right that I should bear testimony to the very able way in which the civic authorities rose to a quite unprecedented occasion, and also to the really magnificent work which was done by the Home Defence Services. I thank the noble Lord for his reply, and beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.