§ 35. Mr. Beverley Baxter
asked the Home Secretary whether he is now in a position to make any further statement regarding the organisation of air raid wardens?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
Yes, Sir. A memorandum is being despatched to-day to borough and district councils, recommending them to organise, in consultation with the police, a service of air raid wardens, to supplement the normal resources of the civil authorities for safeguarding the general public in the event of air attack. It is proposed that fixed posts should be established from which the wardens should operate. Each post will be responsible for a particular area, and it is recommended that the division of towns into suitable areas should be started at once. In residential districts posts should be allotted approximately on the basis of one 526 post to every 500 inhabitants; while in business areas the distribution of posts would be governed rather by distance—for instance, a post every quarter of a mile might be found suitable. The minimum number of wardens required would be two per post. It is intended that the wardens should be in a position to advise their fellow-citizens on the recommended precautions and should be available to give immediate assistance in dealing with air raid damage. The wardens would probably also be used in connection with the distribution of civilian respirators. These services would be -performed in the neighbourhood of the warden's home or place of business.
Volunteers who undertake these responsibilities will be given the training required, and will be supplied by the Government with such equipment as is considered necessary to enable them to carry out their duties effectively. This organisation will constitute an essential supplement to the local authorities' air raid precautions services, and the Government are confident that a sufficient number of volunteers will be forthcoming for the effective performance of this very important part of the work of civil defence. The memorandum is being placed on sale, and copies are being placed in the Library of the House.
§ Mr. Jagger
Will the hon. Member arrange to publish this in pamphlet form instead of reading it here?
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
In the pamphlet which is being issued to local authorities, is there any guidance as to the age of the persons to be selected for this work, in view of the possibility of young persons who may be trained as wardens being wanted later for active service?
§ 38. Mr. A. Jenkins
asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the differing opinions and the public concern as to 527 the effectiveness of the air raid precautions now in course of preparation, he will undertake to submit all the information to an impartial group of competent persons for examination and report?
§ Mr. Jenkins
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a meeting was held in a Committee room upstairs at which a number of scientists from Cambridge University met a large number of Members of all parties of this House as a result of which grave suspicion has been created in their minds that the Government's provisions up to date are not adequate; will he take steps to see that the public are given proper assurances that the provisions are the best that can be obtained?
§ Miss Wilkinson
If there is some dispute, and if they question the Government's tests and the Government question their tests, why do the Government refuse to send the matter to some impartial expert body?
§ Mr. Lloyd
These scientists can be said in general not to have had great experience in this particular technical work, while the Government are advised by many of the principal professors, amounting to nearly 100, of various universities as well as by other experts, including those of the chemical industries, who have had the greatest experience in the country in this work.
§ Mr. Jenkins
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at the meeting to which I have referred a letter was read from one of the most highly qualified and most experienced scientists in this country expressing the view that the provisions are totally inadequate and should be inquired into carefully?
§ 39. Mr. E. J. Williams
asked the Home Secretary whether he can make known in the public interest the total anti-gas and bomb-proof measures adopted by the Government; and whether consideration has been given to the large-scale measures adopted in Paris by the French Government?
§ Mr. Lloyd
As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on Monday to a question by the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. C. Wilson). In regard to the second part of the question, foreign practice is always carefully studied when measures of air raid precautions are being devised.