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Civil Defence

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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Recruitment

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been made for showing Civil Defence exhibitions for the purpose of encouraging recruitment to the Civil Defence and allied services; and whether hon. Members will have an opportunity of inspecting one.

Six Civil Defence touring exhibitions have been prepared for use by local authorities: three of these were recently put on tour and the remainder will be sent out very shortly. I have already written to those hon. Members in whose constituencies they will be shown. It is not practicable to display one of these exhibitions here, but a smaller Civil Defence exhibition will be on view in the Library from 4th–16th December, and I hope that all hon. Members will take the opportunity of seeing it.

Will the hon. Gentleman, in these exhibitions, incorporate some indication of the way in which the Women's Voluntary Services can play a part in assisting Civil Defence, in accordance with the posters which his Department itself has issued?

Will my hon. Friend ask all local authorities to see that these exhibitions are properly advertised?

Mobile Column

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now prepared to approve an establishment for a Civil Defence mobile column; and to authorise the recruitment of at least one such column on a full-time paid basis.

Arrangements are being made to form an experimental column of part-time volunteers ready to give full-time service in the event of war. Pending the experience to be gained from this it would be premature to recruit a column on a full-time basis.

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very great importance of this innovation in Civil Defence and the extreme value of the prototype in constructing Civil Defence in the future, and will he encourage every step being taken to get support for this particular method of activity?

Does the hon. Gentleman realise the importance of earmarking vehicles well in advance to transport these columns?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the event of an atomic attack all the local Civil Defence personnel would probably be out of action, and that these mobile columns may well be the only means of dealing with the situation? Could not some further steps be taken beyond this one experimental column?

We recognise the importance of these columns in case of any form of heavy air attack, and that is why we are going ahead with this experimental one to see what lessons can be learned from its organisation.

Pamphlet

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent an organisation named Peace Pledge Union from hindering recruitment for Civil Defence and undermining the morale of those who have already been recruited in Civil Defence by circulating a defeatist pamphlet entitled, "Civil Defence: What You Should Do Now."

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell), on 23rd November.

Is the Minister aware that this pamphlet contains subversive statements alleging that deep shelters will only be available for the Government and advising members of the Civil Defence organisation to leave the country or to make sure that they will not support the Government? In view of these statements, could not a special Act be introduced, such as the one which deals with people subverting the Armed Forces?

No, Sir. For one thing, I think that the hon. Gentleman is exaggerating the influence of this pamphlet, and I am not anxious to take unnecessary powers to restrict freedom of expression, no matter how foolish.

Is this the pamphlet to which the Minister referred as subversive in his statement in the "News Chronicle"? Has the right hon. Gentleman read the pamphlet, and is he prepared to put this alleged subversive pamphlet in the Library, so that Members can judge for themselves?

No, Sir, I have not alluded to this pamphlet as subversive, but I have read it and I gather from the Questions I have been asked that a large number of hon. Members have read it, and that it has had no effect on their patriotism.

Football Pools

38 and 39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he is aware that, despite falling revenues, football pool winnings in excess of £100,000 have recently been paid and publicised by the organisations concerned; and if, in view of these facts, he will request the Royal Commission now examining this and other forms of betting, to consider issuing an interim report as to the methods of football pool accountancy and declaration of winnings upon which they have already received considerable evidence;

(2) if he is aware of the public disquiet as to the lack of information as to the accounts of the football pool industry; and if, pending the report of the Royal Commission now sitting, he will consider legislation designed to make full weekly publication of accounts obligatory upon all football organisations.

As the Royal Commission is expected to report fairly early in the New Year, I do not think I would be justified in asking them at this late stage of their proceedings to consider issuing an interim report on this matter. I will, however, bring my hon. Friend's Questions to their notice. The House will be aware that a Private Member's Motion for leave to introduce a Bill to make compulsory the regular publication of accounts and information by persons promoting football pool betting was carried without a Division by the House last Tuesday.

May we assume from what my right hon. Friend has said that it is his intention to give every possible support to the Private Member's Bill relating to this question, which is shortly to come before the House?

No, Sir. I have not seen the Bill yet, and I never support any Bill until I have seen it.

Does not the fact that a Bill is to be brought in, after being introduced under the Ten Minutes' Rule, show how completely wrong the Lord President was in resisting the demand for the restoration of Private Members' time?

Injured Prisoners (Compensation)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision is made for a man who sustains, while serving a prison sentence, an injury which prevents him permanently from following any employment after his discharge.

The National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts do not apply to injuries sustained in prison employment, but it is the practice of my Department to make an ex-gratia payment equivalent to the award which would have been made under the Acts if they had been applicable. Cases of non-industrial injury differ so widely in their nature and effects that each case has to be treated on its merits: compensation is sometimes given by way of special remission of sentence, though the possibility of an ex-gratia payment in an appropriate case is not excluded, and the injured prisoner also has his remedies at law. There is no record of a prisoner having sustained during his sentence an injury resulting in total and permanent disablement.

Is the Minister aware that I have a case of a man who was injured while working in prison, who, after being discharged, developed tuberculosis of the spine as the result of the injury? Is it not possible for this man to be dealt with under the Industrial Injuries Act, since he sustained the injury while following his employment?

No, Sir. It is not possible to put a man under the Industrial Injuries Act, because there is no contract of employment between the Prison Commissioners and the prisoner, but if my hon. Friend will see me privately I will be very pleased to discuss with him any case where hardship appears to have been inflicted.

Hackney Carriages

43.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the report from the working party appointed to look into the law and practices in connection with the use of hackney carriages; and how many meetings to date this committee have held.

I understand that the working party hope to be able to report on all the matters referred to them about next March. Twenty-three meetings have been held so far.

Licensing Laws, Wales

44.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many resolutions his Department has received during the last 12 months asking that no change be made in the present licensing laws as they affect Sunday closing in Wales.