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Air-Raid Precautions

Volume 345: debated on Monday 20 March 1939

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that if a man's income does not exceed £250 per annum the family is entitled to a free air-raid shelter; why a man with an income that exceeds that amount, if he has one or two children, must pay for the shelter; that in some cases the income of the family may exceed the £250, even although the father's income may be smaller; whether a man who earns £260 and has to maintain two small children must pay for the shelter; and what action he intends taking about the matter?

The standard which has been adopted for the free distribution of these shelters was fixed after very careful consideration and is, in my opinion, a generous one. I would point out that it covers all manual workers, whatever their earnings, and that where the income limit is applicable, that is in the case of non-manual workers, it takes account only of the earnings of the householders. I am afraid that no course intermediate between making everyone pay and universal free distribution would have avoided the sort of comparisons made in the question, and I can hold out no expectation that the decision will be reopened.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say on what principle preference is given to a manual worker over a clerical worker with less income?

The principle is the principle embodied in the National Insurance Act.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that clerical workers are fed up with the line which is drawn in these matters?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a special committee set up to inquire into these matters recommended that this discrimination should be abolished?