HC Deb 18 April 1940 vol 359 cc1142-3W
Sir G. Schuster

asked the Home Secretary what are the numbers of the steel shelters that have been delivered; for how many people they will afford shelter; and when the distribution of these shelters will be completed, so that the full steel-making resources of the country may be made available for military requirements?

Sir J. Anderson

It was originally estimated that 2¼ millions of the standard steel shelters would be required to supply the needs of the more vulnerable areas declared as "specified areas" for the purposes of Part III of the Civil Defence Act. This original estimate was later increased to approximately 2½ millions. Up to the present date, 2,236,000 shelters have been delivered, and delivery instructions are being given for a further 50,000. These numbers include shelters of all the various sizes supplied, and altogether represent shelter capable of accommodating about 11½ million people. In view of the rapid expansion of our war production, it has now become necessary for the Government to review the existing demands for steel for various war purposes; and as a result of this review it has been decided that, after the completion of the deliveries now in prospect, which will bring the number of shelters supplied above the original estimate and up to fully 90 per cent. of the revised estimate, the steel which would have been used for the completion of the remainder of the programme shall be diverted to other urgent war requirements for which no other material can be used in substitution for steel. Local authorities have already been given particulars of a number of alternative designs for domestic shelters in brick and concrete, for which the Government pay the cost of the materials and grant on the cost of construction. I have sent out a circular giving particulars of some further simple types of design in the same materials, and I am arranging for my regional technical officers to get into touch immediately with the small number of local authorities who had been expecting to receive in due course supplies of the standard steel shelter and will now have to forgo these supplies. By these arrangements I hope that no time will be lost in providing in the areas affected the alternative types of brick and concrete shelter to which I have referred.

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