HC Deb 24 March 1938 vol 333 cc1390-2W
Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the approved pattern of decontamination clothing for air-raid precautions fire services is in seven pieces instead of one, as in the French approved pattern, leaving the most vital parts of the body liable to attack, because there are ventilators under the arms, and because the upper part tucks into the breeches, thus rendering the body vulnerable to splashes of mustard gas, and that, following contamination, a man could not remove one of these suits without extraneous assistance because of its many buttons and hooks; and what steps he is taking to remedy these defects?

Mr. Lloyd

The approved decontamination clothing for Air-Raid Precautions Fire Services consists of jacket, trousers, hood and gloves, in addition to boots and respirator. According to my information the French outfit is similar, except that the hood is attached to the jacket and that in one model sabots were attached to the trousers. The jacket, which is of a pattern used for other purposes in time of peace, has ventilation holes under the arms; these will be closed with gas proof patching in time of war. It can be worn alternatively inside or outside the trousers to meet the risks of vapour or splashing. Assistance in removing the suit is necessary and is a normal part of the routine. The total number of buttons is 10. There are no hooks. Additional designs of protective clothing are under consideration.

Sir W. Smiles

asked the Home Secretary whether any badge is to be given to be worn with civilian clothes to people who have volunteered and been trained for service in air-raid precautions?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend has informed the local authorities that a badge has been instituted for distribution to air-raid precautions volunteers who have completed their training, and His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve my right hon. Friend's recommendation that the Royal Crown should be incorporated in the design of the badge. Approximately 140,000 badges have been issued to local authorities for distribution, and a further 6,000 have been presented to volunteers in air-raid precautions services other than those organised by the local authorities. A badge for Auxiliary Fire Services is also to be issued.

Mr. Sorensen

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he has considered plans for the construction of underground bomb-proof shelters adjacent to schools; and what would be the approximate cost of such construction?

Mr. Lindsay

The question of structural precautions in schools is referred to in Circular 1461, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy. As stated in that circular, the board's view is that in areas where there is such a risk of air raids as would necessitate expensive safety provision if the schools should be kept open, the schools should be closed so long as that risk continues. My Noble Friend has no information with regard to the last part of the question.

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether an order for 1,000 trailer-pumps for air-raid precaution purposes has been placed, at £30 each, with the Czechoslovakian firm of Sigismund; and what opportunities were afforded to British manufacturers to carry out this work either individually or collectively?

Sir P. Sassoon

An order has been placed with Messrs. Sigmund Pumps (Great Britain), Limited, who are domiciled in this country, for 1,000 motor pump units of the smallest of several types required for air-raid protection. The price is lower than that mentioned in the question. The units, with the exception of one small component, will be made in this country. Tenders were invited by public advertisement, giving all interested firms the opportunity of submitting offers, and firms have been selected to receive orders for a total of 3410 units of this type, this number being only a part of the ultimate requirements. The factors governing the selection were suitability, price, and rate of delivery. The remaining 2,410 units will be entirely of British manufacture.