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Dangerous Explosives

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent there is still danger to the public and to children from unexploded bombs, drifting mines and exposed ammunition.

About 230,000 acres of land in this country are still retained owing to the presence of explosives. Notices round the perimeters warn the public of the danger of interfering with objects found in the areas. As regards drifting mines, this is a matter for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. Some ammunition is still stored in roadside dumps which are regularly patrolled by mobile guards. These dumps will be cleared as soon as possible, but owing to shortage of manpower this will take some considerable time.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Charnwood Forest district of Leicestershire these roadside dumps are spread all over the area, that there is very little evidence of supervision, that serious incidents have occurred, and that it is impossible to keep children under constant supervision in a great natural playground like this? Would he take special steps to clear up the problem as soon as possible?

I am endeavouring to do so, but the more I am pressed to release personnel from the Army, the more difficult becomes my task of clearing these ammunition dumps.

Can the Minister say whether it would be possible to take the fuses out of ammunition which is stored by the roadside, as that would help?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it will be 1951 before the dumps in Perthshire are removed?

I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for that information. I was not aware of it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of the ammunition on roadside verges has been removed because it is dangerous, and has been placed in the vicinity of houses? Will he take action about it?


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will direct that the clearing of the Penmaenmawr-Aber area of unexploded bombs be expedited so as to be completed by 1st June instead of 30th August as previously announced in view of the fact that thousands of holiday makers and overseas visitors are expected during the summer in this tourist district.

I regret that I cannot undertake to have this area cleared by 1st June or indeed give any precise date for its release, although every effort will he made to clear it and other similar areas with the minimum delay. The clearance of these areas depends entirely on the availability of the necessary skilled labour, of which the Army's resources are extremely limited.

When the Minister refers to "similar" areas, does that include the area in Norfolk called the Battle Area of Whetting?

I do not know, but I know it includes a very large area in my constituency which I cannot get cleared yet.

What steps have been taken by the Secretary of State for War to clear away unexploded bombs from the neighbourhood of Ebbw Vale?

We are making every effort we can to clear every area of exploded and unexploded bombs, but unexploded bombs can be so deep that they are of no danger to anybody unless they go digging down to find them.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I call your attention to the fact that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) is reading a newspaper?

On that point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I think you know what is contained in this newspaper, and that I propose to raise the matter immediately after the end of Questions. I hope, therefore, you will be satisfied that there was neither discourtesy to you, nor breach of Order.