HC Deb 17 March 1938 vol 333 cc615-6W
Colonel Burton

asked the Home Secretary (1) what number of gas masks are stored in West Suffolk; at what centres; and what arrangements are being made for their distribution;

(2) whether he can state the numbers of gas masks stored in the county of Essex; at what centres they can be obtained; and what arrangements are being made for distribution in the villages within the ambit of the Billericay Urban District Council?

Mr. Lloyd

No respirators are at present stored in West Suffolk or Essex. The respirators for the population of these counties are already in the Home Office Regional Store at Cambridge and a circular will be issued shortly to local authorities which will contain recommendations regarding the establishment of storage centres for the accommodation of respirators required for persons who reside in the area for which the local authority is responsible, and for a scheme of distribution. As soon as the storage centres are provided by the authorities the respirators will be transferred to them from the Regional Store.

Mr. Gallacher

asked the Home Secretary what steps are being taken to make the introduction of adequate air-raid precautions in factories, and particularly armaments factories, obligatory upon employers within a specified time-limit?

Mr. Lloyd

In this matter, as in other parts of the air-raid precautions service, the Government prefer to rely upon the sense of responsibility of employers and other persons rather than upon compulsion, and there is no reason to think that this policy will not be justified.

Mr. Richards

asked the Home Secretary whether, in appointing inspectors under the Air-Raid Precautions Act in Wales, regard will be had to their possessing an adequate knowledge of Welsh?

Mr. Lloyd

This point will be borne in mind if candidates otherwise suitable present themselves.

Sir R. Rankin

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the French gas-mask scheme under which gas-masks will be supplied in hermetically-sealed containers to every individual; and whether he will give consideration to the advantages of this scheme in so far as it eliminates any expense in storage and prevents any complication as regards distribution in the event of an emergency?

Mr. Lloyd

The method of packing each respirator in its own hermetically-sealed container was considered when the question of storage and distribution was first investigated. It was not adopted because of the possible deteriorating effect of such storage on the dissimilar materials comprising the respirator.