§ 3. "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March,1939, for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Labour, including sums payable by the Exchequer to the Unemployment Fund, grants to local authorities, associations and other bodies in respect of unemployment insurance, Employment Exchange and other services; grant-in-aid of the National Council of Social Service; expenses of transfer and re settlement; expenses of training of unemployed persons and, on behalf of the Army 2025 Council and Air Council, of soldiers and airmen for employment; contribution towards the expenses of the International Labour Organisation (League of Nations); expenses of the Industrial Court; expenses in connection with national service; and sundry services."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ 8.38 p.m.
Can we have any information from the Lord Privy Seal's Department about this expenditure? Where does the Lord Privy Seal come in, in the food organisation of the country? He deals with air-raid precautions, with preventing us getting, a knock-out blow, with preventing us from getting burnt out with fire and, presumably, also with water supplies to prevent the fire spreading, but where does food supply come in? We know that he is providing camps for persons evacuated from dangerous areas into the rural parts of England, Scotland and Wales, and surely a food supply will be required. We are to build huts, I hope with a water supply, with drainage, with bedding, and I hope also with food supplies. Are these food stocks to be laid in in advance? Are we to wait until there is difficulty with transport and chaos in getting food to these camps? If so, the plight of those people who are to be evacuated will be very serious.
We ought to be told who is responsible for the provisioning of these camps. Are the stocks being laid in now? What Minister are we to approach about it? We have six Ministers on the Front Bench and we do not know which Minister is responsible. Is it the Minister of Education, who has charge of the school children who will be taken to these camps with the teachers? Is he responsible for the provision? Is it the Minister of Transport? Is it the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Minister of Health? Is it the President of the Board of Trade or the Lord Privy Seal? I submit that we should have some statement which will clarify the position so that we shall know who is responsible and to whom we can go regularly for information on these matters.
I think the only information the right hon. Gentleman can get on this Vote is how far the Lord Privy Seal is concerned.
If we can be assured that the Lord Privy Seal has nothing to do with the provisioning of these camps we should pursue the matter no further, but as the Lord Privy Seal is responsible for the policy of creating these camps to which children are to be evacuated, we submit that someone should tell us who is responsible for provisioning them when the children are there.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)
The Government as a whole are responsible that provisions are available to all citizens, not merely to those in these camps. It has a general responsibility that there shall be supplies of food for all the citizens. In the case of war the final responsibility rests on the Government to provision the citizens. I do not think I can go any further than that. The Government accept the responsibility.
This frightens me more than ever. The Minister of Health has now said that no Minister of the Crown has a particular responsibility for the provisioning of these camps, but that the Government as a whole are responsible.
§ Mr. Elliot
Surely the question of the responsibility for these camps cannot arise here, and indeed it is specifically barred because it will arise on the Bill which is to deal with these camps. The responsibility for sanitation and water supplies to these camps will be in the Bill, and clearly the responsibility for the provisioning of these camps is one of several responsibilities which will fall on the camp authorities.
We are perfectly well aware of that, but here we are dealing with a Supplementary Estimate for the Lord Privy Seal's office, and we are entitled to ask whether it is any part of the duty of the officers of this Department to look after the provisioning of these camps. The Minister of Health says that there is no difference between the provisioning of these camps and of the urban population in time of war. With great respect I submit that there is a vital difference. We are going to take people compulsorily from one area to another.
§ Mr. Elliot
Surely not. The scheme of evacuation does not envisage that we are going to take these people compulsorily from one place to another.
I think I must make this clear. This Vote includes the salary of the Lord Privy Seal and the right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) is quite entitled to ask what are the duties of the Lord Privy Seal for which he gets this salary. But we cannot discuss the duties of Ministers other than the Lord Privy Seal, nor can we discuss on this Estimate responsibilities which cannot arise until the legislation has been introduced.
I fully accept your Ruling, which curiously coincides with my own views on this matter. Our difficulty is this, that up to now it is nobody's business and I am seeking information from the Lord Privy Seal, as I have asked also on the Board of Trade Vote and on the Ministry of Health Vote, and for which I shall ask on every Vote until we can pin somebody down to accept the responsibility. All we are told on this matter from the Government Front Bench is that this is a general responsibility of the Government, and that it is the business of nobody in particular. I submit that the matter is too serious to be put off in that way. The Minister of Health has just said that there is no difference between the provisioning of camps and the provisioning of the urban population, whether it be the Lord Privy Seal's duty or not. I submit there is a vital difference. These people are to be taken to rural areas where there is not at present a wholesale or retail organisation with regard to food supplies. Surely, it is the duty of the Government and the duty of some Minister—I am asking whether it is the Lord Privy Seal's duty—to see that if 17,500 people are taken to these camps, there will be adequate supplies of food for them. It is the Government's duty to see that somebody is responsible for ensuring that there is an adequate supply of food in those areas.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Elliot
I thought I had been precise, but I will be more precise if I can manage it. The responsibility for seeing that there are supplies of provisions is the responsibility of the Food Defence Department under the Board of Trade. If one takes the matter a step further and asks, with regard to this particular type of organisation which concerns the evacuated persons, namely, the camps, what will be the arrangements under 2028 which the food will be taken from the Food Defence Officer, whose business will be the general storage of the provisions, and transferred to the people in the camps, I reply that it will be laid down in the legislation which will be introduced in the House, and which it would be out of order for me to anticipate now.
The Vote for the Lord Privy Seal is now under discussion. The Lord Privy Seal is responsible for the policy with regard to camps. Are we not entitled, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to ask whether up to now any part of the Lord Privy Seal's duties, or his officers' duties, has been in connection with the arrangements for the camps?
I ought to remind the House that we are not now in Committee. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to give way while a question is being answered, but we cannot carry on the Debate in this way.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Seeing that the Minister of Health has evidently taken upon his shoulders this matter concerning the Lord Privy Seal, may I ask whether he is in a position to tell us what provision the Government intend to make to ensure that the poor people, during the emergency for which we are making preparations, will have an equal opportunity with the rich people of being supplied with the necessities of life?
The hon. Member must remember that the Debate must be restricted to the question whether this is the responsibility of the Lord Privy Seal or not.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
The Minister of Health has himself admitted that the Government are responsible for the food supplies. Surely, I am in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in asking what provision the Government have made to ensure that the poor will have the same opportunity of getting food as the rich.
The hon. Member is not entitled to put that question. This Vote is concerned with the duties of the Lord Privy Seal. It is concerned only with the salary of the Lord Privy Seal and the salaries of the very small staff under him.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
I understood the Minister of Health to say that legislation will be brought before the House to deal with the question of the establishment of camps. Am I also to understand that when legislation is brought forward it will contain plans regarding the provisioning of these camps, and that it will contain in detail the arrangements by which essential foodstuffs will be taken to the children in the camps? Are we to understand that there are to be two arrangements—one for the general citizens of the country, which I imagine will take the form of a rationing scheme, and another independent scheme by which provision will be made for the children taken to the camps? The matter is one of great importance. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health will realise that if the camps are to serve the purpose for which they are to be established, they will be in rural areas where there is very little organisation for the storage of food. Consequently, some special provision will have to be made. If the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that when legislation to establish the camps is brought forward, it will contain detailed provisions indicating the way in which food and other essential commodities will be taken to the camps, we shall be satisfied.
I must again remind the House that we are not in Committee. The Minister of Health has already exhausted his right to speak over and over again. I have no doubt that if he wished to speak again, he would get the permission of the House to do so at the end of the Debate, and I would prefer that course to be followed, rather than that the proceedings should go on as they are doing now.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Mander
Since the Minister of Health has exhausted his right to speak, I will address a question to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health. I think this question may throw some light on the duties of the Lord Privy Seal. When legislation is introduced, will it be one part of the duties of the Lord Privy Seal to introduce that legislation?
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Elliot
With reference to your reminder, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I have exhausted my right to speak over and over again, may I say that my only desire was to serve the interests of the House; but if, with the permission of the House, I may speak yet again, I would say in answer to the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that the legislation will lay down in precise and exact terms who is responsible for the camps. I think that is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston) wanted to be sure about. He wanted to pin down the question of responsibility. The legislation will make that clear. It will not, of course, set out in detail the scheme by which these people will be provided with supplies of water, food, sanitation and everything else, but the responsibility will be fixed precisely. I hope that will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling and Clackmannan and the hon. Member for Llanelly.
§ 8.54 p.m.
Before this Vote is disposed of, I would like to put a question to some Minister; presumably somebody will be responsible for answering questions on this. I will endeavour to hold fast to the Rules of Debate with grim tenacity. Under this Vote, there is a provision for evacuation expenses. That means taking people from the urban areas to the rural areas, and presumably feeding them on the road. Presumably it will be necessary to have stocks of food on the way. Then, under the Sub-head "Grants to Local Authorities" there is required an additional sum of £700,000. Will the Minister of Health, if he is to reply, be good enough to tell us whether these extra grants to local authorities include any assistance for the provision of water supplies in those rural areas to which children are to be evacuated?
I asked a question the other day about the number of separate undertakers of 2031 water supplies in England and Wales and I was informed that there were 231 companies and 830 authorities supplying water to the public in England and Wales alone. In addition there are some hundreds in Scotland so that there are probably between 1,200 and 1,400 separate undertakers of water supplies in this country. A large number of these are local authorities who will get grants under subhead G. We are entitled to ask whether any of these are local authorities in whose areas evacuation camps under subhead BB are to be placed and whether any additional provision is to be made for providing water in those cases. Without water supplies, it will be impossible to have these camps. There are undoubtedly local authority areas in this country where if you take in any large additional number of children, particularly in the summer, you will have an outbreak of fever unless you make adequate arrangements for water supply and sewage disposal. Unless that is done, it will be a dangerous policy and a policy inimical to the public health of this country to proceed with these evacuation camps. But if the Minister is taking power now to link up the various water supplies in the country, in the manner of a "grid," and to assist local authorities to provide water for these children and other evacuated persons, then, on this side of the House there will be nothing but wholesale congratulations for him and we will have secured something out of these war emergency preparations which otherwise we might only have obtained with great difficulty and after a long struggle. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will deal with the two specific questions, first, about evacuation food supplies, and secondly, grants to local authorities in connection with water supplies.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Elliot
I shall try to observe jealously in what I am about to say the rules of Debate and guard my right to speak, and I trust that if I should on this occasion exhaust that right nobody will accuse me of having withheld information from the House. In the first place, as to food supplies I understood that the right hon. Gentleman only asked his question in respect of the actual movement on evacuation and on that point I shall give the House the information in my possession. It is intended to provide 2032 emergency rations for evacuated persons in all reception areas. Those supplies will be sufficient to provide maintenance for 48 hours in the new areas, that is to say, during the change-over from the food supply which these people are leaving to the food supply into relation with which they are coming.
§ Mr. Elliot
I am coming to that. These supplies are already available. We accumulated them during the crisis last autumn and we hold in reserve supplies of canned meat, canned milk, and biscuits. Chocolate is also envisaged and of course is readily obtainable. It is intended that these supplies will be at the rail-heads and will be issued to the evacuated persons on their arrival at the rail-heads, and the necessary instructions will be sent to the responsible officers under the evacuation schemes. Does that meet the right hon. Gentleman's point?
§ Mr. Elliot
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, then, would give me some further indication of the point which he has in mind?
§ Mr. Elliot
It seems to me that I have covered the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. I have indicated that there are emergency rations, and that these emergency rations are to consist of certain stocks which I have specified, of canned meat, canned milk and biscuits. I have indicated where these stocks are to be held, namely, at the rail-heads, and under whose authority they are to be issued.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Am I to understand that this food that is to be at certain stations, will be served out free—for nothing?
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Then my question about the poor and the unemployed is all right. They are to be supplied?
§ Mr. Elliot
I think that covers all the questions that were asked on that point. I am anxious to give the House the fullest 2033 possible information but not to exhaust my right to speak. Will the right hon. Gentleman now permit me to pass from that point?
Would the right hon. Gentleman, without sacrificing his right to reply later, be good enough to say what is to happen after the 48 hours period? It is proposed to take these children away for long distances to rail-heads, and after 48 hours of these iron rations provision of the kind he has indicated will be absolutely insufficient.
§ Mr. Elliot
Naturally after the transition period they will come into relation with the regular food supply in the new area to which they have been moved, and plans are being worked out with the trade to augment supplies in the shops in the reception areas sufficiently to deal with the new influx. There are ad hoc committees of wholesalers and retailers concerned with meat, flour, bread, milk, sugar, tea, and other provisions and groceries. The persons who are being evacuated are at present in touch with a supply of food. While they are en voyage—travelling from one area to the other—arrangements are being made to provide them with rations for 48 hours. We are also making arrangements to augment the supplies of food in the reception areas to which they are going and we are doing that through the organisation which I have indicated of ad hoc committees of the trades concerned with the supply of those essentials. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will now permit me to pass from that point?
§ Mr. Johnston indicated assent.
§ Mr. Elliot
Right. The right hon. Gentleman also asked me about water supplies and sewerage. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) will bear me out when I say that these subjects were discussed at some length with a deputation of local authorities I received this very afternoon. It may be of interest to the House and to the right hon. Gentleman if I indicate that there is already a considerable supply of piped water in the reception areas. In England alone there are approximately 8,000 rural parishes with piped water supplies and that represents a population of 7,000,000 out of the total rural population of 8,000,000. Thus the areas which have not piped water supplies represent only 1,000,000 of the rural population, and of 2034 course in siting the camps we shall be careful to see that we do not put them in areas where an adequate water supply is not available. I may say that officers of my Department are already reviewing possible sites, of which a great many have been under consideration, in order not to lose any time, and I think there will be no difficulty in obtaining sites with access to ample water supplies.
The right hon. Gentleman asked also about the question of sewage. I have had calculations made, and those of my officers who are acquainted with water engineering and with the problems involved by a considerable influx of population into areas estimate, and I under stand it is agreed, that an influx of population as high as 50 per cent.—which is a very great deal above what is contemplated in the billeting scheme—would not mean an increase in the consumption of water or output of sewage of more than 20 per cent. That really means that the problem is not an unmanageable one. As regards rural sewerage, while the number of parishes covered is not as great as in the case of water supplies, it does cover 75 percent. of the rural population. Therefore, even as regards sewerage schemes, it is clear that we have already broken the back of the problem. That is not to say that the matter is fully and completely dealt with, but I think it is enough to show that danger of the scheme breaking down by reason of an insufficient supply of water or insufficient arrangements for sewage is not to be apprehended. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman asked me if there was money in this Vote for grants to local authorities for the purposes of further supplies of water. The answer is that there is no provision in this Vote for further supplies of water, or for linking up one water company with another. I think I have fully dealt with the questions which the right hon. Gentleman asked.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I should not have taken part in this Debate but for the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, referred to certain statements he made to a deputation this afternoon. I feel that it is necessary to say that he has repeated here certain statements that he made to that deputation of local authorities, but the statistics which he has placed before the House, and which he also placed before the deputation, are not accepted 2035 by the deputation as being necessarily a complete and final analysis of the situation. I will take one figure that he has given, and I want the House to note that, while his statement is perfectly accurate as far as it can be checked, it is not really an accurate presentation of the problem that confronts local authorities. He says that, in the parishes to which the population to be evacuated may be sent in England and Wales, there are 8,000,000 souls, and, of these, 7,000,000 live in parishes which have piped water supplies.
I do not want the House to draw, and I am sure the Minister would be shocked to think that the House had drawn, from that set of figures, the comforting conclusion that all those 7,000,000 people have a piped water supply. When the Minister was pressed for the real figure this afternoon he was unable to give it, and when he started to mention my name this evening, I thought he was going to assure me that in the meantime he had looked the matter up and could now give me the figure. Is it not common knowledge that, in most of these parishes to which people are to be evacuated, and for the water and sanitary arrangements of which the right hon. Gentleman must accept very considerable responsibility when he evacuates people to them, there is a small core of houses with a water supply, but that frequently, in quite populous rural parishes, not more than a third of the population at the most will be supplied by pipe? Moreover, that third will be living in a very crowded group of cottages, and, if this doctrine of dispersal of the population means anything, that is precisely the part of the village to which people will not be evacuated. It is to those cottages which are without a piped water supply and are not connected to the main drainage system that the evacuated population will be sent.
As the Minister alluded to the deputation he received this afternoon, and gave the version that he put before them, I thought it was only fair to the deputation that I should mention this. I may say that the deputation was a very representative one, representing the county councils of England and Wales, the rural district councils of England and Wales, and the county councils of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman was wise to confine 2036 such information as he gave us just now to England and Wales, because I gather he agrees with the Scottish deputation that, bad as the figures are in the English counties, they are infinitely worse in Scotland. I do not think it is quite fair, if I may say so, of the Minister to receive a deputation this afternoon and bring forward statements this evening as though they were accepted by the deputation, when, as a matter of fact, they were most fiercely contested. He secured no agreement from any member of the deputation to his version of the state of affairs, and I do not think it makes for ease of negotiation when he makes a statement as though it were the conclusion of the conference. If the idea is that what the Minister says to a deputation settles the matter, we may as well have the totalitarian State at once; but I hope that, if we do, we shall have the Ministers who will be capable of shouldering the heavy responsibilities entailed by such a position, and not a Minister who brings forward figures in the way in which they have been brought forward this evening.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I cannot find any great reassurance in anything that the Minister has said to-night with regard to these various air-raid precautions. It is true that we now have six pairs of hands gripping these problems, but the sum of the strength of the grip is no stronger than it was when only one pair of hands was available. My right hon. Friend has drawn my attention to the fact that a very disturbing report has been received from Scotland in regard to rural water supplies in that country. There is already a serious shortage of water supplies in areas where it is proposed, in the event of an emergency, to increase the population by anything up to 50 per cent.——
§ Mr. Garro Jones
Well, say 25 per cent. In those areas there is not enough water supply for the existing population; what is going to be done when the population is substantially increased? It is not as if this was only one difficulty; the same lack of grip seems to characterise almost every problem that the Government are tackling. Take the case of evacuation. It took them three years, in spite of repeated pressure from this side of the House—it is no use the right hon. Gentleman becoming upset at this 2037 criticism, because it was never more merited than it is now—it took them three years to come to a decision, and even now the evacuation arrangements are not complete. He would not even claim that himself.
For example, we have heard that courts of complaint are to be set up, and assuredly they will be necessary. I do not believe that even yet the country has realised the variety of difficulties that will confront the civic administration in the areas where evacuation is to take place. There will be people who are ill, people of different habits living with others, people with various weaknesses and failings who are taken away from the attention of their loved ones and put in the hands of strangers; and there will be a continuous and endless stream of disturbance and discontent. It may be that the people are prepared to put up with this for the sake of the country, but in the long run, unless these evacuation problems are properly handled and arranged in the areas concerned, they will contribute largely to the demoralisation of the civil population in those areas. Therefore, I should like to hear from the Minister further particulars of what he calls the court of complaints, because it will be necessary to do something to reconcile disputes which will arise.
Again, there is the question of shelters. I believe that part of this Vote provides for steel shelters and material for strengthening basements. What kind of steel shelters are meant and what strengthening of basements is to take place? We are told that the Government have not made up their mind whether deep shelters are advisable, or how deep they ought to be, because it is a complex question. We were told that evacuation was such a complex question that they could not decide it for three years. Every problem is a complex one if it is tackled by a vacillating mind. These matters ought to be worked out in lump sums. If they are worked out in detail you come to the same problem over and over again and find yourself working out a recurring decimal or recurring cyphers. That may be an admirable principle for the Prime Minister to act upon in reconstructing his Cabinet, but will not be very effective in bringing about decisions on these important matters.
I wonder why the Lord Privy Seal is not present. He told us that he con- 2038 sidered that the period of notice of air-raid attacks was a vital question in deciding how deep these various shelters should be. Although I have not the advantage of the information provided by the public service I have made some small study of this question and if he thinks he is going to be able to prepare his shelter scheme on the basis of any period of notice he is being badly advised. Suppose there should be only 1,000 bombing aircraft available—an extremely small estimate. No hon. Member will say there might be fewer than 1,000 available for concentration upon the industrial areas alone, even supposing that we had allies. That would mean 80 squadrons of 12 aeroplanes. With that number of squadrons it would be possible to send over a continuous stream of bombing aircraft. They would not necessarily be intensive attacks but intensive attacks are not necessary to set in motion the whole apparatus of air-raid defence. One aircraft can carry 2,000 incendiary bombs, and with squadrons of 12 coming over three times an hour it would be possible to keep the whole of our fighting aircraft and half of our anti-aircraft guns in action, and how could we rely upon any period of notice to get people down into the deep shelters, or, for that matter, the shallow shelters?
I contend that any abnormal concentration of the population which involves passing out into the open will lead to very serious casualties unless the whole scheme is properly considered. The truth is that there will be raids every few minutes. A few minutes after a warning, when people will be congregated in one place, will be the time when the attack will actually come. By the time they have got into the very deep shelters the attack will be over, and by the time they have emerged a new attack will have begun. Therefore, in the consideration of this shelter problem it is necessary to make provision for whole sections of the essential population to work permanently under adequate protection, not having to rush out in order to form mass parades of human targets. I should like to see the Minister tackling this question of permanent shelters before many more days have passed and I am going to give him an idea of the way in which I, as one very humble Member of this Committee, consider that it ought to be 2039 tackled. In September, 1938, the German Dictator decided that it was necessary to repair the western fortifications. He did not play with the problem. He got no fewer than 360,000 special workers, 100,000 men of the Labour Service Corps, and an extensive number of technical units in order to construct these shelters.
Perhaps the hon. Member can help me, but I cannot see anything in this Vote relating to deep shelters.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
May I respectfully draw your attention to Item GG on page 14, which is a token Vote for the protection of vital services, to Item G, which deals with grants to local authorities to include provision for every kind of protection, and to Item CC, which includes steel shelters and materials for strengthening basements. These basements are being strengthened, sometimes at shallow depths and sometimes at greater depths, and it is merely a matter of opinion whether they are deep or shallow shelters.
The hon. Member should confine himself to that aspect of the matter. He has been talking about something which could not possibly be described as the basement of a house.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
What I want to impress upon the Minister is that it is no use playing with this problem. In a country which is our potential enemy, where labour is scarce, they assembled nearly 500,000 men to carry out defensive preparations in three months. In this country, where we have nearly 2,000,000 unemployed, we are dealing with the problem with 2,000 or 3,000 men at a time, in that way showing a completely erroneous perspective of the problem. I should like to see present all the Ministers responsible for these precautions, in order that we might bring home to them the seriousness of the task in which they are engaged.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. Taylor
I wish to draw attention to the question of evacuation. I remember that in February the Minister of Health complained that he had been bounded by arithmetic in making his plans for evacuation. That is not a trustworthy method of approach to the question. Because the Minister of Health has allowed 2040 himself to be bounded by arithmetic he has caused a considerable amount of perturbation in the minds of many local authorities. Let us take a situation where there is an important strategical position but where the population is not by any means of the density of the population in London or some of the larger towns. I refer to the Port of Blyth. The Admiralty made use of it in the last War, when it was a submarine base, and a supply ship lay there. Within a radius of seven miles of that port there are 36 collieries, at which nearly 7,000,000 tons of coal a year is loaded. The Germans, the only people we seem to be worrying about, are trading in and out of the port. Would it not be natural, the port being so well known, that it should be concentrated on? In the last War we had the first German Zeppelins over that district.
§ Mr. Taylor
On the question of density, of which the Minister of Health spoke in making his arithmetical calculations, he would be correct in saying, if you had not made provision for evacuation, that the proportion killed in two air raids, one in an area of great density and the other of less density, would differ. On account of the strategical position I am trying to show that the danger in the less dangerous area, where the strategical position makes those people liable probably to greater danger of air attack——
I am sorry, but I cannot see the application of this. I must ask the hon. Member to confine himself very strictly to the subject-matter of the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison
May I submit to you, Sir, that my hon. Friend is discussing a Vote which relates to evacuation, and the policy of the Government in that respect is under review. The point that he is making is that part of the county of Northumberland might well attract enemy aircraft, through reasons of military strategy, and he is arguing, I think, that for that reason that is an area that ought to be evacuated and, as far as he can understand, the Minister is not proposing to evacuate it. I submit that he is in order.
The right hon. Gentleman might be able to persuade himself and the House by what he has said 2041 of the connection between evacuation and the hon. Member's speech, but unfortunately for him this matter is one of relevancy, which must be decided by someone, and that is left by the House to the Chair. In my opinion up to the present the hon. Member's speech has not had very much relevancy.
§ Mr. Taylor
The local authorities in the Blyth district are very much perturbed. I leave it at that. May I say a word or two in regard to the assistance to local authorities? I am not sure how safe I shall be on this, because it is a sort of cat and mouse business. There are a large number of local authorities who are tremendously anxious to serve the interests of their districts to the best of their ability. It seems to me that grants could be so fashioned that there would be liberty to local authorities to spend money without having to go cap in hand for permission. That is very much handicapping their work. I feel sure that we could safely give them that liberty of action.
The question of shelters is another matter which concerns us very considerably. We have a tremendous number of unemployed miners and we have a very serious danger in burning pit heaps, but we have also a number of pit heaps which have been burnt out and are standing there like extinct volcanoes. The miners have been used to tunnelling and they could easily make shelters by driving into the foot of these extinct pit heaps. Being burnt out, they would offer tremendous resistance against burning and they could be made very safe. They would not be deep shelters but basement shelters. They would be on a level with the earth. If this were taken into consideration we might do very useful work in our district until such time as the Government changed their mind about deep bombproof shelters.
§ 9.34 p.m.
Mr. David Adams
In considering whether or not to agree to these Estimates, we must begin by inquiring whether, in the protection which it is proposed to afford to them, the workers will enjoy such a sense of security as to feel fairly certain that they will come through any conflict which may fall upon them. Otherwise there will be panic, and with panic, temporarily, perhaps permanently, an end of the civic and normal industrial life of the community.
2042 It is for that reason that we are entitled to suggest the form of protection that should be accorded. I have reason to know that on the North-East Coast we have a very large and active industrial population that is looking with much questioning to the methods of protection which the Government are proposing in the expenditure which we have under consideration to-night. I was certainly much alarmed when the Lord Privy Seal made this observation——
The hon. Member must remember that we are on the Report stage, and on the Report stage of an Estimate we must keep very strictly to the limits of the Estimate. We cannot go into the question of alternative methods.
I certainly do not desire to stray from the narrow path, but I may surely indicate to the Minister the type of shelter which ought to be provided in certain areas out of the money which Parliament is about to vote. One might certainly feel a lack of confidence inasmuch as the Lord Privy Seal has stated that many people will have to make the best of it in time of war. Our industrial population is entitled to as full and complete protection as the State can provide. We have been advised that certain forms of shelter would be costly, but the cost falls to a reasonable figure when such shelters could be utilised for underground street works, hospitals and garages.
If the hon. Member has listened to the Debate he knows that I have already ruled that this goes beyond the terms of the Vote.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
On that point, is it possible to say with certainty that no part of this sum of £750,000 is to be used for the construction of the buildings to which my hon. Friend has referred? Certainly we have had no adequate statement, and we can only discuss these subjects if the Minister explains what the money is to be spent upon. In that case we must insist upon very much fuller explanations than we have had to-day.
I was saying that the form of shelter which I anticipate the Government will ultimately provide, when they have made up their minds, could be pro- 2043 vided for a reasonable charge, and the money that we are about to expend could be allocated in the particular direction I have indicated.
The Lord Privy Seal has certainly not indicated yet the direction in which this money is to be expended. I am pressing this matter on behalf of a large constituency which is very greatly concerned about the situation. There has been no survey in Durham of various natural formations which could be utilised for protection at very small cost.
As there is no Estimate for such a survey, the Vote does not apply to such a survey.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I do not know whether you, Sir, would permit one of the Ministers to help us. I understood the Government have not finally made up their minds about deep shelters. I should appreciate your difficulty if they had finally rejected deep shelters, but we are not in a position to know whether deep shelters may be included in this Vote or not.
I think the right hon. Gentleman has just given the best explanation of why this is not in order. If the Government have not 'decided, obviously the cost could not be covered by any Estimate, certainly not by this one.
I can only conclude by saying that the Government have for the last seven years been considering the form of protection to be accorded to the industrial workers, and the statement of the Lord Privy Seal was that they had not yet made up their minds. Let us hope that the war is not upon us before they make up their minds.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
May I ask the Minister a question? There is a sum of £750,000 being voted, but so far as I know the Minister has not told us what the money is going to be spent upon.
That is a point I have already dealt with, and I think the hon. Member has exhausted his right to speak.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Could not we have an explanation of this Vote? I understand that this arises out of the extra expenditure in connection with the National Service campaign. I regret the practice commonly followed to-day by which Ministers do not open with an explanation of their Estimates. The old practice was that each Minister explained his Estimates and gave us a chance of raising particular issues on the Report stage. In Committee we can speak twice, but here we can only speak once, and we are under the handicap that no statement has been made by the Government. I see on the Vote that certain officials of the Ministry of Labour have been transferred to the work of the National Service campaign. How far has this transfer taken place? In so far as it has taken place, how has it, if at all, interfered with the normal work of the Employment Exchange? I understand that one of the managers in a certain town has been allocated or transferred for this purpose, and I want to know whether during that period the work at the Exchange carried on the same as usual. If so, it seems to me that if a manager can be transferred for this kind of work, there was no need for his services at the Exchange before.
The other point is about publicity, which, I take it, includes the ordinary advertising on the hoardings plus meetings that have been held up and down the country. I want to raise, in regard to public meetings, the question of how far expenditure was involved and how Government Members are paid, if at all, for addressing these meetings. Let me assume that a member of the Cabinet goes to a place to address a meeting in connection with National Service. Is there any payment made to that member of the Government for so doing? I do not mean personal payment in the sense of a fee, but are expenses payable to that member of the Government for addressing a meeting, and, if so, on what scale are the expenses paid? The second thing that I would like to ask is whether the Parliamentary Secretary can give us any idea as to the composition of these meetings and what payments, if any, 2045 other speakers may receive either as expenses or as fees. If members of other political parties or of no political party at all decide to help the Government by addressing public meetings, is any fee paid to them, or is there a scale of expenses?
I also want to raise the question of the stewardship of these meetings. I understand that recently the Lord Privy Seal addressed a meeting in the City of Glasgow in connection with this publicity. The meeting was extremely well attended, and I would like to ask who were the stewards of the meeting. Were they civil servants? How were the stewards selected? At an ordinary political meeting the stewards are drawn from the political party that runs the meeting, and usually without any payment, but I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary how the, stewards who attend National Service meetings are selected. Is it true that many of them are drawn from Employment Exchange staffs, that these men are practically compelled to attend these meetings as stewards, and that if they do not attend, they in some way jeopardise their position? I want to ask, specifically about the Glasgow meeting, how the stewards were selected for it, whether they were paid any sum at all for attending it, and, if so, what sum. At the Glasgow meeting there was considerable resentment by a large section of the population, so much so that a number of men who had already volunteered to serve in certain ambulance work left the hall in disgust at the treatment meted out by the stewards to certain members of the public who had attended the meeting.
The Government were responsible for the stewards at the meeting, because it was a Government meeting, and I would like to ask, if the Government were responsible for it, how the stewards were selected and how the Government were guaranteed that the stewards would conduct the meeting in the ordinary way to which we are used in this country. There is a feeling that is widely expressed in the City of Glasgow that at this meeting which the Lord Privy Seal addressed there was a force used which was unknown or at least was not common in our West of Scotland meetings. Hitherto we have been able to take part in our political discussions and disputes without the display that was used at this St. Andrew's Hall 2046 meeting, and I would like an explanation from the Parliamentary Secretary as to who selected the stewards and whether any payment was made for the work.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. W. A. Robinson
I am somewhat perplexed at the remarks of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) as to the rates of pay which are being given to men who may be speakers or workers or stewards at public meetings. I thought they were trade union rates of pay, and from the trade union point of view, if work has to be done and men are scheduled for the work, they ought to be paid trade union rates.
I am not saying that the hon. Member is not in order, but it depends upon, and I should like to know whether the meeting in question was organised by the Ministry of Labour and whether the expense comes under this particular Estimate.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I made some inquiries before leaving Glasgow as to who ran the meeting, and I was informed that the people in charge of the meeting were Ministry of Labour officials.
I know that the hon Member says that, but what I do not know is whether it is covered by this Vote.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Lennox-Boyd)
All these meetings in different parts of the country are organised by the National Service Committee. In the case of the meeting in Glasgow, it took place under the chairmanship of the Lord Provost and the committee, formed in the way that the hon. Member knows, were responsible for the organisation and running of the meeting. These cannot properly be called Government meetings at all.
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a point of Order. I see on this Vote so much for publicity, and I would like to ask whether publicity does not include the public meetings with which I am dealing. If not, what does publicity mean?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I understand that responsibility for the meeting was the particular point which the hon. Member had in mind. That rested with the local committee who organised the meeting.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The money is found out of this Vote, but I understand that the particular point the hon. Member had in mind was the responsibility for the organisation of the meeting.
§ Mr. Robinson
Perhaps I may now continue. I am concerned about trade union conditions. During the last War considerable expenses were given to Horatio Bottomley and Lord Charles Beresford. I want to assure my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) that the protests he has made are entirely wrong. I want to be quite satisfied that everybody speaking for the Government is given fair, decent remuneration. I want to be satisfied that if there is work to be done for the Government those who do it will get about expeditiously and will do the work under the best conditions. The Government do not pay too much for expenses. I know that from my own experience as a member of a trade board. They do not give you more than you spend; in fact, they do not give you as much as you spend. The hon. Member for Gorbals is a representative of the Pattern Makers' Union. What sort of a pattern is he setting? It is stupid.
I must ask the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Robinson), if he wishes to go on with his speech, to do so.
§ Mr. Robinson
A question has been raised on an important issue as to whether 2048 the Government expenses are high or low. They have been charged with spending undue money in expenses, on travelling and on hotel expenses. That charge is most unfair. They never pay very high expenses. There is important Governmental work to be done, and whatever expenses are allowed no Government, not even a Labour Government, pay excessively. I have been engaged in trade board work for a long time and I know, and I am content to believe that the Government do try to economise in travelling expenses. In connection with this terrible international crisis, if hon. Members or other people are called upon to do work in speaking, I hope that the expenses allowed by the Government will be reasonable and fair. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has made a charge which is most unfair. It is a pity that he made a certain reference to me. He made that charge because he knows his case to-night is wrong.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Cartland
I should like to ask two questions in regard to publicity and the National Service committees. In regard to publicity can the Minister say whether the committees are carrying out any publicity other than meetings, and whether he has looked into the question whether the public who come to the meetings are really the public with whom we want to get into touch? I have seen it suggested that many of the seats at these public meetings are charged for. If a charge is to be made for attending these meetings, naturally we shall not get the people to whom we want to make the greatest appeal in regard to National Service. I should also like to know whether the Minister is satisfied that all the National Service committees are actually working. They may be in being, but are they working? I believe that there are committees which have been set up in name but have not yet met. If that is the case, I should like to know whether it is possible for the Department to take any steps to get these bodies working as soon as possible. Further, are any steps being taken to follow up the National Service booklet? The booklet has gone into the homes, but I am afraid in many cases it has gone into the wastepaper basket. I wonder whether the Department has any further steps in mind to follow up the booklet.
§ 10.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I am sure the House appreciates your desire, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to get us up early to-night, but it would be as well if we were not to allow the Government to escape from telling us for what purpose this money is being spent. There is one particular aspect in regard to publicity on which I should like to have information. Hon. Members must have noticed that the newspaper Press in the last few months have contained very large spaces of advertisements for air-raid precautions. I put a question to the Prime Minister whether the newspapers are making any charge for these advertisements. These advertisements advise the people to give their voluntary services for the defence of the country, and I should like to know whether the Government are paying the full rate for these advertisements—£6 an inch and so on in the "Daily Mail," the "Daily Express" and other national and provincial newspapers; 12 inches across four columns, advertisements on an enormous scale. I should think that it is at the rate of about £20,000 a month.
I should be glad if the Minister would let us know whether these advertisements are being paid for at full rates. If so I am going to make a proposal. It seems to me that it would be a very invidious thing if Ministers in charge of Departments should be given enormous sums of money to spend in newspaper advertisements. A few years ago I made some criticism of a practice of Cabinet Ministers receiving £50 to £100 for writing articles for the Press. If Ministers to-day are to be able to dispense lavishly sums of money amounting to thousands of pounds for newspaper advertisements, it will be putting upon them a task more than a frail human being ought to be expected to carry. If the large-scale air-raid service advertisements appearing in the Press are being paid for, I say that there is something distasteful to the majority of the people of this country in enriching already wealthy newspaper trusts by spending this money for their benefit. Surely, they are not charging full rates for these advertisements, which ask the public to give their voluntary services. If they are, I hope the House will return again and again to this question and that they will insist that where advertisements are being published inviting people, even poor people, to give their time and energy 2050 after their day's work is done, they will not be a charge on the Exchequer. I hope that before the Vote is passed the Minister will give us some explanation.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I should like to deal with the point which the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) quite properly raised on this Vote. I can assure him, in regard to his first query, that though the services of Exchange managers have been used and have been of the utmost value in helping to organise meetings in different parts of the country, there has been no diminution of the ordinary routine work of the Exchanges or of that useful public service which they will continue to perform. He inquires how this can be possible if the staffs of the Exchanges have not hitherto been unnecessarily large. The answer is that in a time of emergency and of national stress, people are asked to undertake work which normally, in more peaceful times, would not be imposed on them, and it is reasonable to assume, not that the staffs have been more than adequate hitherto, but that we have without impropriety called on the Exchange managers to render help on this occasion.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am coming to that point. The hon. Member will appreciate that I am not in a position to answer detailed questions in regard to particular meetings. I can say, however, that the meeting in Glasgow, which I understand was well attended by just those people we want to see at these meetings, and which was under the chairmanship of the Lord Provost, was organised locally, and if any members of the Exchange helped in order to make the meeting a success they would not have been penalised had they not done so. No attempt has been made to impose on members of the Exchanges or any members of the public, because it is hoped that this service will be voluntary on the part of all. As to the question of expense, the hon. Member will notice that the Supplementary Estimate makes provision for payment of travelling expenses and other allowances to members of National Service committees under the usual scale applicable to members of advisory committees appointed by the Minister. I do not think it unreasonable that people who are put to expense through activities of this kind 2051 should have their expenses met. There is no question of payment for work of this kind.
My hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) asked what steps were being taken to follow up the issue of the National Service Handbook. The issue of the handbook synchronised with the formation of many National Service committees in different parts of the country. The purpose of the handbook was to give all who were a little uncertain as to how best they could serve the country, a guide as to the form of activity most suited to them. From that moment the onus was on the local committees to assist recruitment for the different services. I come to the point about publicity raised by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones). The Vote which we are now considering makes an allowance for incidental expenses, including publicity, of £3,600. The hon. Member will appreciate that this is for expenses up to the 31st March, 1939. The hon. Member is in a little doubt as to what form the publicity has taken. Our publicity has been of a general kind and has been concerned with the issue of the handbook. The different services, like air-raid precautions, fire services, and so on, continue their own publicity, and any comments that the hon. Member may have to make on any expenses that have been entered into by other Government Departments cannot properly be addressed to me, because I am dealing only with the £3,600 which is partly for publicity entered into by our Department in connection with National Service.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
Can the hon. Gentleman state that there is no money in this Vote which is being spent on newspaper advertising? If so, I shall not press the matter, but I ask for a definite assurance about that.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am afraid that I cannot answer this definitely. I do not know, but I will have inquiry made and I will bring the information I get to the attention of the hon. Member. A point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton about charging at these meetings. Occasionally charges have been made, and I do not think it unwise to say that we would all like to see meetings which can be run and organised without charge so that they are 2052 open to everybody who wishes to go. I feel that as a great deal of the organisation and control has been left to the local committees, this matter can properly be left to them and that they can be relied on to handle it as well as they are handling other incidents of this National Service campaign.
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I wish to enter my protest that the Parliamentary Secretary has come to the House to-night, presumably to defend this Vote, and that he is not in a position to answer an obvious and important question which my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones) has put. He really ought to know whether newspapers advertising is included in this amount, and I protest against the Minister coming to the House and defending a Vote when he does not know the details of the expenditure upon which it is based. It is not good enough to say that he will find out and inform my hon. Friend. He ought to know, and he ought to be able to tell the House any reasonable question about the Vote. The question which my hon. Friend put about newspaper advertising is perfectly reasonable and, indeed, an obvious question which any Minister competent to discharge his duties, ought to be ready to deal with. I wish to protest very strongly against the un-readiness of the Parliamentary Secretary to do his job. He was put some questions by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) about payments to speakers at public meetings and he has not answered them. He has answered a point about expenses of members of National Service committees, and he ought to answer that question. I spoke at one meeting in London and I was not offered any fee or any expenses, but if I had been offered them in the case of a London meeting I should not have accepted them. I say that because I think it should be made clear.
There is a point to which I would like to refer if I am in order, but I cannot know, and I imagine that you, Sir, cannot know unless the Minister can tell us. There have been appointed recently by Mr. Herbert Morgan, who is adviser to the Government on publicity in connection with National Service, a number of special officers in the regions throughout the country. Their duties are partly publicity, partly co-ordinating the work of 2053 the local committees, and partly stimulating the work of those committees. If the expenses of these offices are in this Vote, I would like to put some questions to the appropriate Minister, or to the inappropriate Minister if he can be advised by the appropriate Minister. I shall be glad to know how many of these officers there are, what their qualifications are for this work, what their salaries are, and what their expenses, if any, are.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Perhaps I might interrupt the right hon. Member. The expenses of these new officers were not on this Vote; therefore, I imagine that we shall not be in order in discussing it now. These are expenses up to the end of this month, and do not include these new officers, these "ginger" officers.
§ Mr. Morrison
In that case I cannot pursue the matter. I wanted information on it, but I understand my hon. Friend the Member for North Camber well (Mr. Ammon) will put a question on the point.
§ REPORT [6th MARCH].
§ Resolutions reported,