Air-Raid Precautions.

Oral Answers to Questions — Unemployment. – in the House of Commons on 5th May 1938.

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Photo of Colonel James Baldwin-Webb Colonel James Baldwin-Webb , The Wrekin

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can make any statement as to the extent to which air-raid shelters have been created in the Greater London area?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I gave on 31st March to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Bull).

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Wentworth

Does this mean that the principle of building air-raid shelters has been accepted by the Government, and have any been built?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

There are provisions in the regulations under the Act for that purpose.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Wentworth

Has the principle been generally accepted of building underground shelters in order to protect the whole population, or only a portion of them, and has nothing been done?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

My right hon. Friend has asked for a survey of the accommodation to be made by local authorities.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Wentworth

Then am I right in suspecting that nothing has been done?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

No, Sir. Actual surveys are being made by typical London boroughs.

Photo of Mr Charles Ammon Mr Charles Ammon , Camberwell North

Are the surveys concerned to find only what underground accommodation there is in the different boroughs?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

The survey is to find out the available shelter accommodation.

Photo of Colonel James Baldwin-Webb Colonel James Baldwin-Webb , The Wrekin

asked the Home Secretary the length of time a gas mask is expected to last when in use and exposed to both air and gas; and whether replacements will be needed at any time?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

The life of a respirator in use against gas varies widely with the nature and intensity of the gas. All respirators being provided by the Government have a life which is considered to be fully adequate, and peace-time storage arrangements will ensure that respirators are maintained in proper condition for long periods. Replacement in war may be necessary and provision is being made accordingly.

Photo of Colonel James Baldwin-Webb Colonel James Baldwin-Webb , The Wrekin

asked the Home Secretary whether, in the production of gas masks, regard is had to the numbers of persons who are actually likely to need and use them or whether such masks are being made for the entire population irrespective of their place of residence?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

Respirators are being ordered to meet the needs of the whole population and will be supplied generally to all local authorities.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

asked the Home Secretary whether, in the construction of new armament works, provision is being made for air raid shelters, in close proximity to those works, for the protection of the workmen?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

As my right hon. Friend has stated on several occasions, it is the duty of all good employers to take such precautions as are reasonable and necessary to protect their personnel.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

I mean the works now being built by the Government. Is it part of the plans in regard to these works to see that air raid shelters are provided for the workmen? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is very essential in munition works to provide adequate underground air raid shelters for the workmen? Will he consult with the Office of Works to see that that is done?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

The appropriate Government Department are considering that question.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Wentworth

Is it left to the good-will of the employers, if they think fit, to erect them, and if they do not do so, has the hon. Member's Department no responsibility, and are they not doing it?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

Does the Minister not think it desirable that this provision should be made now before the works are completed, and not afterwards?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I have said that the appropriate Government Department have that matter in hand at the present time.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Wentworth

What has been done exactly?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

We are in danger of some confusion between factories as a whole and Government factories. I have said that in regard to Government factories the matter is being considered by the appropriate Government Department.

Photo of Mr John Cartland Mr John Cartland , Birmingham King's Norton

Can the Minister say whether his Department is in touch with the manufacturers who are carrying out armaments work, with regard to provision for the protection of their workers?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I said that the appropriate Department have the matter in hand.

Photo of Mr John Cartland Mr John Cartland , Birmingham King's Norton

Is it the hon. Member's Department or the Air-Raids Precautions Department?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

No doubt it would be the Office of Works in connection with Government factories.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the Home Secretary the number of local authorities whose duty it is to submit schemes under the Air-Raid Precautions Act; the number of such authorities who have submitted schemes; the number and estimated cost of such schemes approved up to the present time; and the estimated amount of the Exchequer contributions thereto?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

There are 230 counties, county boroughs and large burghs in England, Wales and Scotland which are under obligation to prepare air raid general precautions schemes, to which must be added such other local authorities as may be directed, in accordance with the proviso (b) to Sub-section (2) of Section i of the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1937, to prepare separate schemes. With regard to the submission of schemes by all these authorities, and the preparatory arrangements which are being authorised in advance of formal schemes, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 27th April to the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Colonel Nathan). The number of local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland under obligation to submit air raid fire precautions schemes is 1,213. From these authorities 305 schemes have been received. About 70 of these schemes have been substantially settled with the local authorities concerned. It is not possible at present to give a figure for the aggregate cost or the amount which will rank for Exchequer grant.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Smith Mr Benjamin Smith , Bermondsey Rotherhithe

Can the hon. Member say whether when progressive authorities like the Borough of Bermondsey, which I have the honour to repre sent, are willing and anxious to create air raid shelters, any grant from the Government will be made towards the cost?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I am afraid that is a different question.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

asked the Home Secretary how many badges have now been issued to male air-raid wardens; and how many brooches have been issued to female air-raid wardens?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

The latest available returns which may in many cases be considerably behind the actual position indicate that 4,453 badges have been issued to male air-raid wardens, and 362 brooches to female air-raid wardens.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

Does that total number of air raid are now fully trained?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

No, Sir, not at all. The returns come in only in three-month intervals.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

asked the Home Secretary whether he can inform in the House of the arrangements made by the local authority in Leeds to defray the travelling expenses of air-raid precautions personnel attending for training; and whether he can state if these arrangements meet with his approval?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

The City Council have been informed in the usual way that reasonable travelling expenses of air-raid precautions personnel will be viewed favourably for purposes of grant. I have no information as to the actual arrangements they have made, but, as I informed my hon. Friend on 14th April, I shall be glad to look into any particular case he may have in mind.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

Can my hon. Friend say how it is that he has no information of the arrangements? Is it not the duty of the local authority to inform him of the arrangements they made last week?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

No, Sir. The local authority has been informed that they can make their arrangements, and it is not necessary that they should inform us immediately of the exact nature of the arrangements. I would repeat that local authorities in the matter of air-raid precautions are now engaged in launching a very complicated task, and we ought not to hamper them in the least.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

Will my hon. Friend inquire as to the arrangements made in Leeds and decide whether they are to be typical for the whole of the country?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I will investigate any case the hon. Member desires, if he will give me the details.

Photo of Mr Harry Day Mr Harry Day , Southwark Central

Can instruction be given by some of the officers who have been appointed?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

asked the Home Secretary whether the first progress returns of the enrolment of personnel for air-raid precautions services have yet been received from all local authorities; and, if not, when he anticipates they will be received?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

Local authorities will be asked this month to supply the regional inspectors with simple regular returns at monthly intervals. This system will come into operation next month, and my right hon. Friend expects to have the first complete return of this kind by the end of next month.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

Do I understand that the Home Office has no information as to the number of volunteers enrolled throughout the country?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

We have general information, but it is not as accurate as we should like it to be.

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

Is it not the policy of the hon. Member's Department to leave local authorities as much freedom as possible in this matter, and not to hamper them unnecessarily by having to make returns?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

I should like to emphasise that point. They have a very big job, and we must allow them as much freedom as possible.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the consideration being given by the Minister of Health to the question of the introduction of legislation to exempt air-raid shelters from the incidence of rates, he will now give consideration to the question of the introduction of legislation to exempt air-raid shelters from assessment to Schedule A Income Tax?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

This matter is now under consideration.

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the slow progress which is being made with the provision of adequate air-raid protection for their employés by factory owners in this country, he will consider making arrangements whereby part of the cost of such protection shall be borne by the State and that the balance shall be permitted to be used as a charge against Income Tax?.

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

As has already been stated on various occasions in this House, however much the Government and the local authorities can do in the provision of public air-raid precaution services, there must remain a duty on employers of labour to do what they can to help their employés as regards protection against air raids. In these circumstances the Government is not able to accept the first proposal made in the question. As regards the second, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave on 18th March to my hon. Friend the Member for Duddeston (Mr. Simmonds) and on 7th April to the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison), of which I am sending him copies.

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

While realising that employers should do all they can in this direction, does not my right hon. Friend realise that it will be most difficult to obtain universal and prompt progress in this important matter unless some arrangement is made by the Government to cover that very heavy expenditure?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

As my hon. Friend knows, this matter has been under very full consideration, and I think that if he looks at the answers to which I have referred, they will give him the necessary information.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Smith Mr Benjamin Smith , Bermondsey Rotherhithe

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House that 'he will give serious consideration first to the interests of the community as against business interests?

Photo of Mr John Banfield Mr John Banfield , Wednesbury

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he can make any further statement as to the provision which is being made for the protection of Government staffs against air-raid attacks in case of war, more especially in view of the complaints that no practical steps are being taken, and also because it will be expected that large sections of Government workers will have to carry on as usual?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

Substantial progress has now been made with the training of civil servants in anti-gas precautions, and a survey has been made of the headquarters offices of many of the bigger Departments and the accommodation most suitable for use as refuges earmarked. The survey of other offices is proceeding and other related issues are under active consideration. The proposals in regard to refuge accommodation are being, or are about to be, discussed by Departments with their staffs. I cannot accordingly agree that no practical steps are being taken.