asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that since 29th July a further batch of evacuees have arrived in the Kettering district, some of whom have been evacuated two or three times and some five times; whether, in view of this, he will consider obtaining a written guarantee from parents that their children will stay when evacuated and only return for the arranged periods, or for any exceptional reason when permission has been granted by the local billeting committee and that failure to comply With the guarantee will be considered an offence.
My right hon. Friend is afraid that he cannot accept the facts stated by my hon. and gallant Friend as in all respects accurate. Some of the children in this party had been evacuated before, but in these cases the London authorities had been at special pains to satisfy themselves that there had been a reasonable excuse for the return to London. My right hon. Friend has no reason to doubt that the London authorities exercised a careful discretion in reaching a decision in these cases, and he does not think any further action is called for.
Is the hon. Lady not aware that this scheme is not working satisfactorily throughout the country? Is the Ministry prepared to do something about it, because it is causing grave dissatisfaction to small householders, and also some loss of national work as many of these women with evacuees cannot go out to work? It is costing a lot of money, and would it not be better, as the scheme is working badly, to remedy it and to give that wasted money to the old age pensioners and people serving in the Forces?
The last part of that question contains a point of view with which I do not agree. As for this scheme, arrangements have been made for tightening up the decisions of the local authorities as to what children are to be evacuated, and in this case I think the reception authorities agree that this party was carefully chosen and that the reason for the children's return to London from a previous evacuation had been carefully examined. I cannot agree that the scheme is working badly, and in some cases I think when asked how many times they have been evacuated children sometimes give the number of times they have been transferred from one authority to another, but that is not the same as a return to the evacuation area.