Lighthouses.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Information. – in the House of Commons on 24th July 1940.

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. GARRO JONES:

27. To ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what authority exists for operating or extinguishing lighthouses to meet considerations which are the concern of the Admiralty, the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security, respectively; and who decides whether lighthouses are to be put out or not?

Photo of Mr George Garro-Jones Mr George Garro-Jones , Aberdeen North

On a point of Order. May I refer to this Question before putting it? Without wishing to add to the difficulties of the senior Ministers of the Crown, I addressed this Question to the Prime Minister—to be answered, no doubt, by the Lord Privy Seal—as it occurred to me to be pre-eminently a Question in which there was a balance of responsibility between three Government Departments. For example, lighthouses which are lit in order to guide convoys to certain channels can also guide enemy aircraft to attack civilian populations for which I have a special responsibility in the House. I want to ask, Mr. Speaker, whether you can, in your wisdom and discretion, ask Ministers to consider very carefully before they lightly reject Questions, which, after full consideration, have been addressed to the Prime Minister, and place them before a Department which is not able to take every aspect of the question into account, as in this case?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

My powers as regards that matter are limited. Questions must go to the Departments which are concerned with the subject.

Photo of Sir Victor Warrender Sir Victor Warrender , Grantham

Under Defence Regulation 44 the Admiralty gives directions for operating or extinguishing navigational lights on the coasts of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The requirements of the Service and Civil Departments concerned are fully considered in reaching decisions.

Photo of Mr George Garro-Jones Mr George Garro-Jones , Aberdeen North

May I ask the hon. Baronet whether, apart from the consideration which is given to the requirements of other Departments by the Admiralty, there is consultation with the other Departments concerned, in particular the Department of Home Security?

Photo of Sir Victor Warrender Sir Victor Warrender , Grantham

Yes, Sir. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that quite simple and effective machinery exists for paying proper attention to any representations which come before us.

Photo of Mr George Garro-Jones Mr George Garro-Jones , Aberdeen North

With great respect, that does not meet my point. May I ask whether, before authority is given for the maintenance of lighthouses by the Admiralty, the Admiralty consult the Department of Home Security, the Air Ministry and others responsible for Civil Defence?

Photo of Sir Victor Warrender Sir Victor Warrender , Grantham

Yes, Sir. I said in my original answer that in reaching a decision as to the maintenance or extinguishing of lights the interests and representations of other Departments are fully considered.

Photo of Mr George Garro-Jones Mr George Garro-Jones , Aberdeen North

With great respect, my point is not being met, and I want an answer to it. To say that interests are considered is not to say that the Departments are consulted. The initiative rests entirely with the Admiralty, according to the hon. Baronet's answer. I should like an assurance that the other Departments are actually consulted and their opinions sought.

Photo of Sir Victor Warrender Sir Victor Warrender , Grantham

I am sorry if I have not made myself clear. If the hon. Member would prefer me to use the word "consultation," I will do so. In reaching decisions the interests of other Departments are considered and they are consulted.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

The Ministry said so before—half-a-dozen times.