Laid-Up Motor Cars (Immobilisation).

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 11th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Walter Higgs Mr Walter Higgs , Birmingham West

asked the Home Secretary whether Official Notice No. 8, issued by the Midland Regional Commissioner, referring to the immobilisation of motor-cars, was issued on the instructions of his Department and have similar instructions been issued throughout the country; and will he consider eliminating that part of the direction that enforces the deposit of the spare parts at the nearest police station?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

asked the Home Secretary the policy of the Government with regard to the immobilisation of laid-up motor-cars, the removal of certain parts and their storage at centres; and whether it is intended that this should apply throughout the whole country and from that date?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Directions relating to the immobilisation of unlicensed private cars have been made by Regional Commissioners with my authority in certain areas at various times during the past two years. If invasion comes, vehicles will be immobilised to the extent deemed necessary by Regional. Commissioners, in consultation with the military authorities. The object of the steps taken hitherto is partially to relieve the police of what would be an intolerable burden if left till the time came. As to the future, I would refer to the answer given to the hon. baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) on 9th instant.

Photo of Mr Walter Higgs Mr Walter Higgs , Birmingham West

Is the Minister aware that the order affords no protection whatever, because half the cars will still be in service? Further, is he aware that it has caused considerable dissatisfaction in Birmingham and has created a good trade in spare parts?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I know there has been misapprehension in Birmingham, for which I am sorry, but I tried to clear it up in a statement I made to the Press on Saturday. If a car is unlicensed, it is not available for service, and the Government view is that in appropriate cases, where the Regional Commissioner and the military authorities think it right, spare parts should be stored for the time being so as to prevent their use in disturbed conditions.

Photo of Mr Walter Higgs Mr Walter Higgs , Birmingham West

Is it not possible for the Minister to give further consideration to this problem?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am always willing to give further consideration to any problem. If any new facts arise, I will, of course, consider them.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Is the decision left to the Regional Commissioners, and in what other parts of the country is this in operation?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

It is actually in operation—I am speaking from memory—in four Regions. It is left to the discretion of the Regional Commissioner, in consultation with the police and military authorities, because circumstances may vary. I would point out that this Region, as my hon. Friend knows, is what might be called a highly motorised Region.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is widespread misapprehension and misunderstanding as to the scope and reasons for this policy, and will he give the widest publicity to these reasons?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

If my hon. Friend will look at the newspapers which circulated in the Midland area last Monday, I think he will find that I made a full statement.