Emergency Water Tanks

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence – in the House of Commons on 26th November 1942.

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Photo of Mr Charles Ammon Mr Charles Ammon , Camberwell North

asked the Home Secretary whether he is now in a position to make any statement in regard to the protection of emergency water tanks?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Yes, Sir. To make it more difficult for children to get themselves into danger, basins will, as soon as the work can be carried out, be surmounted by a ring of barbed wire fitted on stanchions. Where the walls of brick or masonry tanks have flat tops there will be added a pointed coping above which the ring of barbed wire will be placed. I hope these measures will be effective. Much direct damage has been done to static water tanks in many parts of the country, and moreover they have been used as dumps for rubbish, including much valuable salvage. A new Defence Regulation has, therefore, been made under which it is an offence to throw things into, or climb on, them, or to interfere with pipes, valves, etc. These water supplies are of first-rate importance to our war effort, and I should welcome the co-operation of all hon. Members in impressing upon the public the urgent importance of not interfering with them or in any way diminishing their usefulness.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Would it not be much simpler, as is the case in many parts of the country, to cover these receptacles with metal mesh?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

We tried that experiment, but within an hour children were dancing on it, and one of them fell through.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Is it not very dangerous to have barbed wire round these tanks? In West Ham we have netting two feet round the outside walls, and there has been no injury.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am glad to hear that that is the case in West Ham. We have thought carefully about this, and the Parliamentary Secretary has made an examination. We thought that barbed wire would be effective, and I should have thought that children would not wish to be mixed up with barbed wire; but here I am in a dilemma, for it is a choice between children tearing their clothes on the wire and getting drowned. I think that on the whole the first is the lesser risk to take.