Skip to main content

Air-Raid Precautions

Volume 345: debated on Thursday 30 March 1939

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

21.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what type of explosive was used in the recent air-raid precautions test in Northampton when the first attempt to demolish a derelict house failed through the charge not exploding and in which the second attempt succeeded but shattered the windows in houses and buildings 150 yards away; and whether he will ensure that a better type of detonating explosive is used in future tests?

Inquiries into this matter are still in progress, and, as soon as they are complete, I will communicate with the hon. Member.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that such experiments are not indulged in in places that are so close to other buildings as to be likely to cause damage; and also that they are carried out with a greater degree of efficiency?

I will consider the whole matter in the light of the results of the inquiries.

23.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many rescue parties so far have been organised in the county of London?

Nearly 4,000 men have been enrolled in the County of London as members of rescue parties, but I am not in a position to say how far these recruits have yet been organised in parties. The London County Council have undertaken the responsibility for organising rescue parties in the county, and, in consultation with the metropolitan boroughs, their officers are engaged in working out plans for centralised recruiting, for training as parties in peace-time, and for central control and co-ordination in war-time.

24.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many first-aid parties have been established and know their posts in the county of London?

Some 4,500 men have been enrolled as members of first-aid parties in the county of London; but I cannot say how far these recruits have been organised as parties and allocated to particular depots. Arrangements have been completed with the St. John Ambulance Brigade, in conjunction with the Metropolitan boroughs, for the collective training as parties of those enrolled for this service who have received preliminary first-aid training. A special organisation for this purpose is being set up under the control of Colonel Wallace Benson, who is getting into touch immediately with the medical officers of health of the boroughs in order to work out locally the arrangements for collective training. It will be for borough authorities to allocate the parties trained by the brigade to particular depots in their areas.

Is there not a great shortage of first-aid workers, compared with the need, in London; and will my right hon. Friend do everything he can to increase recruitment, both for first-aid parties and for rescue parties?

Yes, Sir, it is perfectly true that there is a marked shortage for those parties. Everything possible is being done to promote increased recruitment.

25.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether officers of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society receive the same allowances as the voluntary organisers of air-raid precautions services and auxiliary nurses?

I am not quite clear what my hon. Friend has in mind. If he is referring to the fees paid to instructors, members of the brigade or society who are qualified as instructors should receive the same fee as any other instructor similarly qualified.

26.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the position of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society in the scheme of civil de fence; and whether, in providing additional services in this direction, it is proposed to proceed by increasing the membership of these organisations, or by setting up new and competitive organisations?

The St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society are rendering valuable assistance to the local authorities responsible for recruiting, organising, and training the air-raid casualty services, in the training of volunteers for those services, and they also encourage a number of their trained members, whose age and experience makes them suitable, to enrol with the local authorities in those services for duty in first-aid posts or first-aid parties. Both bodies retain their position as voluntary first-aid organisations, and there is no question of setting up competitive associations.

27.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has received recently any reports from Major Broadhurst, regional officer, as to the progress of air-raid precautions in Liverpool, stating whether his Department is satisfied with progress to date?

From information received from my regional officer, I am satisfied that considerable progress has recently been made, and that the situation is now developing satisfactorily.

Is the relationship between the regional officer and the A.R.P. committee in Liverpool quite satisfactory? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the different reports to the city council as to the progress being made?

My information is that there has been a marked improvement in the situation in recent weeks, and I have no reason to suppose that personal relations are not satisfactory.

Can my right hon. Friend say when this area is to be scheduled as vulnerable?

The list has been published for certain purposes, and in connection with the Bill which is shortly to come before the House further lists will have to be issued, and work is proceeding on these lists now.

How long will it be before the improved progress reaches the stage at which the right hon. Gentleman can say that he is satisfied?

28.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the situation which has arisen in Warwickshire as a result of the removal by the county council of the air-raid wardens from the control of the chief constable?

While I understand that there was at first a certain amount of opposition among the wardens in certain parts of the county to the change control of their organisation which was decided upon by the county council, I have every reason to think that the members of the service generally will co-operate loyally with the authorities in making a success of the new arrangements.

Does my right hon. Friend mean that he has agreed to the decision of the council, and, if so, is not this a complete reversal of policy, involving the scrapping of police control, which has given every satisfaction in Warwickshire?

The Department have never made known any rigid conditions in regard to air-raid wardens. They have, it is true, in circulars to local authorities given a general guidance in favour of control by the chief of police where that was suitable, but an element of discretion was left to the local authorities, and in this case the county council, after consideration, decided in favour of alternative arrangements.

Will my right hon. Friend reconsider that decision if I scan show him that he has been much misguided in regard to conditions in Warwickshire?

I must make it clear that the decision did not require the approval of the Department, but I would, of course, consider any representations which were made.

30.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether expenditure incurred by the local education authorities in carrying out work imposed upon them by Circular No. 1461 of the Board of Education will rank for grant at the same rate as expenditure incurred by the air-raid precautions committees of the same authorities?

Measures necessary for the protection of school buildings and their occupants are primarily the responsibility of the appropriate education authorities, and fall outside the scope of the Air-Raid Precautions Act, which governs the financial position of local authorities in relation only to the organisation of general air-raid precaution services.

37.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, upon whom the expenditure will fall, as between sending and receiving authorities under evacuation schemes of local education authorities; will the grant on such expenditure be the grant available under the ordinary grant formula; and what will be the position with regard to expenditure arising out of the facts of evacuation which falls outside the expenditure of a local education authority as such?

Expenditure on the education of children evacuated from the area of one local education authority to that of another will fall on the sending authority and will be recognised for grant in the education account for that authority. It is proposed that a local education authority should receive in respect of its total net recognisable expenditure for the year a grant bearing the same proportion to that expenditure as held good for the last year for which complete audited accounts are available. Expenditure due solely to evacuation, and falling outside the expenditure of a local education authority as such, will not be a charge upon the local education authority. Provision is made in the Civil Defence Bill for defraying from the Exchequer such non-educational expenditure.

Do I understand that the education authority will be allowed to carry out the work under the direction of another authority or another department?

No, Sir, the education authority, which is the sending authority for children, will send in in the ordinary way and will receive grant in accordance with the provisions.

The question I wish to ask with respect to expenditure which is due to the evacuation rather than to educational expenditure, which the education authority is called upon to bear is, What grant will be available for the expenditure which will fall upon the local education authorities?

I do not think that it will fall on the local education authorities, but I cannot give the exact figure at the present moment.

38.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has had time to collate the accommodation returns from reception areas; and when he will be able to decide on the exact boundaries of those areas?

The survey of accommodation is now practically complete and my right hon. Friend hopes very shortly, in the light of the information available, to be in a position to consider the representations which have been made to him regarding the use of certain districts for reception. As regards the second part of the question I am not in a position to give a date at present

39.

asked the Minister of Health exactly what household equipment it is expected that householders in the reception areas are expected to provide for the accommodation of their allotment of evacuated children and adults?

My right hon. Friend intends to deal with this question in the circular which he is about to issue to local authorities and of which I will send my hon. and gallant Friend a copy.

56.

asked the Minister of Health how many emergency ambulance stations have been set up in Kensington and the addresses thereof?

I understand that the London County Council has provisionally earmarked premises at 10 points in the Royal Borough as emergency ambulance stations, but the addresses cannot properly be published until the London County Council have completed the necessary arrangements with the owners.

60.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in connection with his plans for evacuation, it is proposed to take an emergency census of the whole of the country or part of the country, and, if so, of what nature?

I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend has in mind. A survey of accommodation in the areas provisionally classified as suitable for the reception of persons evacuated has been carried out by the local authorities and is now substantially complete. The local authorities in the towns to be evacuated will shortly be taking steps to ascertain the number of children whose parents would wish them to be evacuated in case of emergency. Neither of these operations is, however, quite in the nature of a. census.

Are not the Government planning to find out how many aged and infirm will have to be evacuated in each area?

Will the hon. Member bear in mind that one of the difficulties in the matter of taking a census is the impossibility of local authorities knowing how many people are going to evacuate themselves? Unless that information is known, it is impossible for any census figures to be reliable.

61.

asked the Minister of Health whether, before the sites of evacuation camps are settled, he proposes to institute any sort of public inquiry as to the most suitable places; and whether in each county all the chief local authorities will be consulted?

I would refer my hon. Friend to yesterday's Debate on the Second Reading of the Camps Bill, when my right hon. Friend explained the arrangements for the selection of sites for the proposed camps.

65.

asked the Minister of Health what payment is to be made to-male and to female helpers, other than teachers, who volunteer to accompany those who are to be evacuated in the first and second priority groups, and who are accepted for full-time employment in this capacity?

The matter to which the hon. Member's question refers is at present under consideration.

May we hope to have early information in regard to this matter, since practically nobody is volunteering, because people know nothing about the conditions under which they would be expected to go away with children or adults in the first and second priority groups?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that this is being borne in mind by my right hon. Friend who is anxious to do all he can in the matter.

If I put down a question in a week's time, will the hon. Gentleman be able to give an answer?

66.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that local authorities are charging rates on houses which remain unfurnished and unoccupied if it is disclosed that they have been purchased for the evacuation of people in time of war; and whether he will take steps to remedy this in the interests of air-raid precautions?

I am not aware that local authorities have acted as stated in the first part of the question. My right hon. Friend has no jurisdiction to determine liability for rates, but if my hon. Friend would care to bring any particular case to my notice I will make inquiries.