§ 3.43 p.m.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD SIMONDS)
My Lords, with the permission of the House, I will make a further brief statement about the flooded areas on the East Coast, on similar lines to a statement being made by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in another place. The latest figure of deaths known to the police is 256. Her Majesty's Government have under urgent consideration the question of dispersing the persons who have had to leave their homes and are now in rest centres. As it becomes possible to re-house the victims of this disaster it is certain that furniture will be required, and arrangements have been made to store, in a Ministry of Works depôt at Royston, any gifts of furniture which members of the 281 public are willing to make. Details of the scheme will be announced shortly.
The police gave warning to the public in certain areas last night to be on their guard against the possibility of further flooding during the high tide, but I am glad to inform your Lordships that for the most part the repairs effected to our defences withstood the limited danger to which we were exposed last night; and there was only slight fresh flooding in very limited areas. The danger from the high tides beginning on February 14, to which my noble friend referred yesterday, still remains.
My right honourable friend the Minister of Health wishes me to assure your Lordships that the state of public health in the flooded areas gives, at present at any rate, no cause for anxiety, but he is closely watching the position. I am glad to be able to inform the House that the morale and conduct of the population have been exemplary and that there have been only isolated cases of theft. The police are paying special attention to protecting property in the absence of the householders. The task of the police and of all those engaged in relief and repair operations would be greatly facilitated if the public would refrain from paying unnecessary visits to the area. Offers of assistance, for which Her Majesty's Government are very grateful, continue to come in from Commonwealth and foreign countries. We for our part are giving such help to the Netherlands Government as is in our power, including the loan of British and Canadian sappers from the Army of the Rhine.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, we are very grateful indeed for the rather more comforting statement that has just been made. I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord if he could say whether, in the event of people being willing to give furniture, arrangements will be made for its collection from the places where it now is. It would, of course, be somewhat of a burden on individuals to have to send furniture to Royston.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am not in a position to tell the noble Lord of my own knowledge what the position is, but it does appear in the statement that I have made that details of the scheme—and that refers of course to the scheme with regard to furniture— 282 will be announced shortly. It may be that something bearing on this point will be amongst those details. If not, and if the noble Lord will be good enough to communicate with me, I will see that he is properly informed.