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I realise that many such shelters are unsightly and inconveniently placed but I am satisfied that the balance of advantage lies in retaining them for the present—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—unless there are compelling grounds for removal in individual cases. Individual shelters are removed if they obstruct road traffic or approved building development, or if they are structurally unsound or their removal is essential on medical grounds.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any real reason why they should be maintained at all? They are very old, most of them are insanitary and unless the local authorities are satisfied that they are actually dangerous structures, they are afraid to remove them. Why cannot the Home Secretary give a general direction allowing all local authorities to remove these shelters, which obviously would be of no use in the event of another war?
I think it would be wrong to remove the shelters except on the four grounds which I have stated. The Civil Defence (Shelter) (Maintenance) Regulations, 1956, empower local authorities to maintain shelters in repair and to keep a watch on them. I would rather rely on those powers.
If I did not think they were of some value, I should have complied with the hon. Member's request. The reason why I think they are of some value is that we cannot tell what dangers may come our way. We cannot tell how valuable such shelters might be, provided they are not structurally, medically or in other ways unsound.