HC Deb 16 November 1939 vol 353 cc851-3W
Colonel Ponsonby

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in some reception areas the distribution of evacuated school children was made without regard to the education facilities available, and that consequently their effective education has been, and still is, seriously prejudiced; and whether, in such cases where the local authority, in discussion with the education authority, can prepare suitable plans for the redistribution of the children, he will permit their re-billeting?

Mr. Elliot

My Noble Friend the President of the Board of Education. after consultation with myself, issued a circular to local education authorities on the 6th November about the re-billeting of school children where it appears that their education may be seriously prejudiced under existing arrangements. I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy of that circular. I shall shortly be issuing similar directions to local authorities in the reception areas.

Mr. Groves

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that approximately 90 blind persons have been evacuated from West Ham and are now domiciled at Oxford, and as a consequence they are suffering a reduction of three shillings per head per week domiciliary assistance; and whether, as the cost of living in Oxford appears to be no less than in West Ham, he will make the necessary arrangements to see that these blind people suffer no financial inconvenience as a result of the evacuation?

Mr. Elliot

The rates of domiciliary assistance paid to blind persons are a matter for the decision of the local authority concerned and I have no power to give any directions in the matter.

I understand that the practice of the West Ham Borough Council is to pay domiciliary assistance to blind persons evacuated from their borough at a rate based on that current in the reception area adjusted according to the needs of the case but I have no doubt that they will give consideration to any cases of special hardship which may be caused by the uniform application of this rule.

Mr. Foot

asked the Minister of Health whether he will endeavour to make arrangements with the railway companies whereby parents visiting their evacuated children at Christmas time may be enabled to travel at specially reduced rates?

Mr. Elliot

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Hamilton Kerr).

Mr. Naylor

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the probability of air-raid attacks upon the South-East Coast, he will consider the advisability of transferring children in reception areas on or comparatively near the South-East Coast line to areas more central or farther west?

Mr. Elliot

The districts selected as reception areas were primarily those in which the objective of dispersal could be secured. While some measure of redistribution has been and will continue to be made as occasion requires, it will not be possible, having regard to the limitations on accommodation, to dispense with the use of the areas to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Minister of Health whether any scheme of billeting allowances can be arranged in respect to evacuated schoolchildren to relatives where, after investigation, it is found that such private arrangements are bona fide?

Mr. Elliot

I am not at present in a position to add anything to the reply given to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) on 19th October.