asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that, after the bombing of Weston-super-Mare, undertakers touted distressed relatives who had been called to the town to identify victims, secured orders for the provision of coffins, etc., and subsequently submitted to those relatives exorbitant bills for the work; and, as these prices are greatly in excess of those allowed by his Department, will he take the necessary steps to prevent any future exploitation of dependants of air-raid victims in this manner?
My inquiries have not disclosed any foundation for the allegation in the first part of the Question, and I have no power to intervene between undertakers and relatives who elect to arrange private burials instead of taking advantage of the provision made by local health authorities.
Is the Minister aware that distressed people were called from South Wales to go to Weston-super-Mare to identify their relatives, and that in the particular case referred to in the Question, the son identified his father and mother who had been killed in the blitz, and was touted by undertakers while in that distressed condition at the mortuary, and that ultimately a bill for £50 was sent to him? Why was there not some civil authority there to advise these people of their rights?
—and if one reads the description of the coffins, a matter which was arranged between the relatives and the undertakers, they were the sort of coffins one would expect Hitler to have.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in the course of the inquiries made in connection with this Question, he found any proof that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) had taken any steps before putting down this Question, which contains a very sweeping slander, to verify the facts contained in the Question?