HC Deb 22 October 1940 vol 365 cc917-8
2. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the employment of prisoners of war to fill in craters made by enemy bombers in pasture-land?

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for War (Sir Edward Grigg)

I have considered my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion and am satisfied that there are insuperable objections to putting it into effect.

3. Rear-Admiral Beamish (for Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will arrange for farmers to have military assistance in filling in bomb craters made on their lands?

Sir E. Grigg

The Army is ready to render help to the civil population in every way which the civil authorities approve and in so far as its own main military duties of defence and training for attack permit.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a great number of these craters all over the country, and that this is rapidly assuming a very serous state of affairs? Will he take note that the Minister of Agriculture has been asked to help in the matter and that at present nothing is being done, and it is holding up a great deal of business?

Sir E. Grigg

I have said it is a matter for the civil authorities. I cannot take over the duties of the civil authorities.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Will the hon. Gentleman communicate with the Minister of Agriculture on the matter?

Sir E. Grigg

That has already been done.

Colonel Arthur Evans

What is the procedure? Do the local authorities apply to local officers, or does it go to the War Office first?

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Could not the hon. Gentleman use the unemployed to fill in these craters?

Sir E. Grigg

The War Office cannot keep the unemployed.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Would it be impossible to get some of these mechanical diggers, because the farmers in my constituency are advised that the work of refilling the craters is quite beyond the powers of the local authorities?

Sir E. Grigg

That is not the responsibility of the War Office.

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