HL Deb 20 November 1940 vol 117 cc716-33

LORD ADDISON had given Notice that he would ask His Majesty's Government whether they are prepared to publish the Report of Lord Horder's Committee on air-raid shelters, and to state what steps it is proposed to take to safeguard public health for people using them; and move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, to-day is another example of the great value of Parliamentary institutions. It has afforded an opportunity to hear an excellent discussion on a great topic and a very satisfactory reply. I have no hesitation in saying that the subject I propose to bring forward, whilst completely different, is no less important. We may well lose more lives by disease through overcrowding and unsuitable conditions in shelters than from bombing. That is quite a possibility. I speak with hesitation in the presence of my noble and distinguished friend on the Cross Benches (Lord Horder), but that must be fairly obvious to everyone who knows the risks that must arise through people crowding together in ill-ventilated and often insanitary places below the ground, sometimes for hours and hours together. It "asks for" the spread, in the winter months, of all manner of diseases.

Every one of us welcomes the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Horder, and others to report to the Government as to what should be done about it. I understand—and we had statements issued to that effect—that some time toward the end of September, the noble Lord made certain recommendations, and I have no doubt that, as experience has developed since then, these have been added to. I feel sure they have; but I am very surprised that no publicity was given to the recommendations of this Committee before this morning, practically, except for various reports and more or less accurate guesses. In view of the necessity of getting ahead with the work of making shelters of the right type, properly ventilated and with adequate services attached to them, the first possible opportunity should have been taken to publish the recommendations of this Committee. Local authorities with whom it seems to rest for the most part are sometimes a bit slow, and it was exceedingly important that as much as possible should be done before the winter months were upon us. I note—and I am sorry to have to say it, but perhaps the noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) will be able to give us a good explanation—that we have not yet had the Report published; we have had only the recommendations. For my part, I want to see the Report, and I believe a large number of other people also want to see it.

The position is not at all satisfactory. The fact is that if there is slowness in making the shelters what they ought to be, or in providing them, nobody seems to have the power to act. All the Ministry of Health appear to be able to do is to issue circulars. We are told sometimes on the wireless that they have issued a circular on this or on that in various terms, but that is not enough. The perils are too great and they are too near us in these winter months, for us to be satisfied that our central governing Department has, in fact, no greater power than exhortation, because that is what it comes down to. The bombers, when they visit us, have no regard to borough boundaries, and when people are bombed from their homes, and are in the distressful condition with which every one of us is acquainted, they do not seek shelter necessarily within the limits of their own borough. They go to what they believe to be the best shelter they can find. We know that in many shelters the conditions are nothing like so good as they ought to be.

There is a case actually mentioned in the Daily Telegraph to-day in commenting on the recommendations of the Committee on the point of the great importance of dispersal. It is of vital importance, as far as possible, that people should be dispersed and as far as possible not in great numbers, otherwise you ask for the spread of infection: so the noble Lord in his recommendations insists on the first importance of dispersal of people in shelters. Everyone must agree with him, but that means we should have some authority which is able to take a view of what shelter accommodation is or may be made available without regard for borough boundaries—that is to say, you should pool your shelter provision. The Daily Telegraph this morning, in referring to a particular case, says: Again, local authorities are 'advised' to organise a pooling of shelter space resources. There ought to be no room left for the evading of this obligation. A case was lately made public in which an unoccupied house had been placed at the disposal of a borough authority for shelter purposes; the offer was declined on the ground that that particular auhority was already provided with enough shelter-space! If the overcrowding evil is to be attacked successfully, that kind of spirit will have to be sharply exorcised. I do not know how the spirit should be exorcised, but what I want is to have someone to do something about it.

Clearly the Government Department ought to have the power to come in and see that shelter provision is made available and is suitable. What applies to the provision of shelters or the proper and fuller use of shelter accommodation being crippled to some extent by dependence on the large number of separate authorities, applies equally to the provision of the shelter itself in terms of adequate ventilation and sanitary provision. I expect we have all heard about this sort of thing. Some time ago I came across a most shocking case of the horrible, insanitary conditions prevailing in a big shelter—indescribably disgusting—which ought not to have been allowed, and it had been like that for three weeks. It is all very well for the Ministry of Health to exhort others to do something, but it should have been in somebody's power to go in and clear up the mess, to get something done about it. That is the point I am making. The situation does not seem to have been grasped and dealt with as it ought to have been. What applies to this kind of thing applies to the appointment of shelter marshals, nurses, and sufficient medical staff. I heard the other day, for example, of difficulties being experienced about the appointment of medical staff because questions have not yet been satisfactorily settled as to whose panel a person was going to be on. It is grotesque that we should be held up by considerations of this kind. Unless the noble Duke can give us some very good reason I shall ask the House to insist upon the publication of this Report, to see not only what is recommended but why it is recommended. I think that most of us can guess pretty well, but I cannot imagine why the Ministry of Health has only seen fit to publish the recommendations and not the Report on the eve of this debate.

To be quite frank there has been too much feebleness by the Ministry of Health in this critical matter for weeks past. We cannot afford to wait on people who are dilatory or perhaps inefficient. From the point of view of the health of the people in our great centres of population there is during this coming winter no subject of more urgent importance than this, and I am quite sure it is just as well that we should have an opportunity publicly of discussing it. I have not seen the Report of my noble friend. I have known him for a great many years, and I suspect that the Report not only has in it the professional knowledge for which he is distinguished but is also full of practical common sense from the first word to the last. I am quite sure of that, and I should like to see the Report, and I think we should have the opportunity of seeing it. One feels in the absence of having seen the Report that it is and must necessarily be a most valid contribution to national security at this time, and I urge the Government to give us some definite assurances that they will without delay take action, not by the multiplication of more authorities or by the appointment of some high-sounding person to another job, but by the Ministry taking power to secure that there is effective action, possibly by having one authority for the whole business. That has been said on two occasions before in this House, and I do not apologise in the least for repeating it. I am afraid that unless we can obtain unity of direction, unity of power to act, in this grave matter we shall be confronted this winter with terrible conditions arising out of the use of these shelters. I do hope that the Ministry of Health will take their courage in their hands and demand to be given the power to act in all matters necessary with regard to this trouble. I beg to move for Papers.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for the Report of Lord Horder's Committee on Air Raid Shelters.—(Lord Addison.)


My Lords, I think it is scarcely necessary for me to remind your Lordships how this question of health in relation to shelters originally arose. I might say that literally it arose in a night, because, your Lordships will remember, the Ministry of Home Security took upon themselves to provide, and so far as I know did adequately provide—or, I would say, were in the act of adequately providing—shelter of a certain kind when this problem arose so abruptly. The nature of the shelter which was originally designed and was being provided was temporary shelter of a sitting kind for a short period during the day, when suddenly the problem changed, and we became aware that for the rapidly but frankly unprepared-for changed problem urgent provision became necessary for dormitory accommodation, not for an hour or two but for the greater part of the night, or, as we now know, for the whole night. The health problem would have been slight, if indeed one could say there was a health problem, had conditions remained as we anticipated they would, but, with the need for dormitory accommodation for a vast number of people, the health problem emerged from that moment side by side with the security problem, and it has continued to do so.

The problem was fraught with many difficulties. The Government were fully aware of the need that something should be done on the health side as well as on the security side, and, as your Lordships know, an Inter-Departmental Committee of an advisory character was set up, and Sir John Anderson and Mr. Malcolm MacDonald paid me the compliment of asking me to preside over a small Committee of inquiry which should, after due inquiry, issue a Report and with that Report certain recommendations. I am not politically minded, and, therefore, I am not going to concern myself with any questions of a controversial nature which may arise in connection with this problem, as, for example, when did we report and in what form did we report. The answer to those questions will no doubt at long last be given, if not in your Lordships' House then in some other place. But the Government did, as I say, appoint this Committee, and were very insistent that we should get to work quickly. They gave us every facility; and, as is well known to your Lordships, met us individually in consultation in the shelters. Your Lordships cannot be unaware that Ministers with their staffs and their friends did visit the shelters, and did themselves see the unbelievable conditions (speaking hygienically) which the large public shelters presented two months ago.

The crux of the problem has always been, as the noble Lord, Lord Addison said, one of overcrowding—a large number of people in a confined space with at first no means of sanitation, with no drinking water, with no proper facilities for sleeping, a large number of people in contact with one another, uninfected people in close proximity with the infected, and some other details which the noble Lord, Lord Addison, has given your Lordships. That state of affairs was handled at the centre promptly. Your Lordships will naturally want to know from me what progress I think has been made in the direction of resolving that acute problem presented in that way. My Committee feel that in view of the magnitude of the problem and the rapidity with which it arose, a great deal has been done. A great deal has been done to implement our recommendations, and I am fully aware that a great deal has been done by Miss Ellen Wilkinson's Committee, the Shelters Policy Committee. Miss Wilkinson's Committee have acted both in the direction of improved security and in the direction of improved health, improved hygiene.

I would remind your Lordships again I that, as I said before, these two conditions, security and hygiene, cannot be separated. Dispersal is the answer to both—dispersal outside the shelters, that is evacuation, the dispersal of the shelters qua shelters, and dispersal of the individuals who inhabit especially the large public shelters of their own choice, where this risk to health presents itself at its maximum. But there is still much to do. It would be not only foolish, it would be wrong, it would be criminal, to say that we are even within sight of the solution of the hygienic problem in connection with shelter life. I cannot therefore give your Lordships the assurance that I would like to give that health dangers in regard to shelter problems are over.

A recent minute of my Committee puts the position thus: Although we are aware that some local authorities have realised the danger that confronts them and have taken steps to avert it, the impression made on the Committee by its more recent observations is still profoundly disturbing. The functions of my Committee, as your Lordships know, are advisory. We have no responsibility for action taken on our recommendations. At the same time we cannot be blind to what we observe, and we cannot be indifferent to what we believe to be the causes which operate in such a way—if your Lordships will forgive a homely metaphor—as to delay the giving of our medicine to the patients concerning whose health we have been called in for consultation. We cannot help, for example, being struck by the lack of co-ordination between the different departments of the local authorities, resulting in no one official accepting detailed responsibility for the problems arising out of shelter conditions, and we cannot help observing that instructions are often issued to already over-worked officials who are quite unable to cope with the volume of work presented to them, their own personnel being inadequate for the purpose.

May I say in conclusion that I trust this matter will not be made a question of political controversy? It is difficult for me to see how that can be so. I am sure that no such motive animated the noble Lord my old friend and colleague in putting this Motion before your Lordships. Noble Lords know, as I know, that his interest in the common health over a period of years still animates him. All the same, may I say to my noble friend Lord Addison that he must be aware that I am not an apologist for the Government either in respect of what they do or what they do not do? I sit on the Cross Benches in your Lordships' House and I sit on the Cross Benches in regard to this matter of inter-departmental work in connection with shelter housing. The only thing that matters is that we get on with this business, that we say to ourselves in effect: "I will not sleep comfortably in my own bed until I have done my best to get as much safety, whether it be physical safety or health safety, for the people who form the bulk of this great country."


My Lords, I join with the noble Lord opposite in regretting that this Report has not been published in full, and my regret is the more deep after hearing the extremely important speech just delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Horder. I think that if anything further was required to bring home to us the gravity of the position, that will have been furnished by his speech. The recommendations that are set forth in his Committee's Report show us that the situation is indeed one of the utmost seriousness for the health of the people of the country. The notes which follow the recommendations show that the Government have been taking considerable steps and that a good deal has been done, but the noble Lord's speech has made it quite clear that we are very far from a solution of the problem. His own words were that we are not "even within sight of the solution" of the problem. The problem is two-fold. There is first the terrible overcrowding, and secondly the conditions which, at any rate until quite recently, in many of these shelters have been quite horribly and indescribably insanitary. I have heard from time to time from those who have been to these shelters that the conditions in some of the shelters were, at any rate quite recently, indescribable.

There is another point which I should like to make in connection with this subject. I am afraid that the noble Duke who is replying will not be able to answer me on this, as I have not given him notice of the question; but I am very anxious about the condition of the children who use these shelters. I am told—indeed, I have seen it myself—that, at any rate until quite recently, a line of children can be seen at eleven o'clock in the morning, waiting to book places in the shelters for the rest of the family. The children are standing in a row for hours. They take their food with them and wait until they can book places, and they wait in the shelter until the rest of the family come there later in the evening. I understand that something has already been done to deal with that evil. It is proposed to issue tickets, but how far have these tickets already been issued? I know that there are schemes, but how far have they been put into effect? It is impossible, I think, to exaggerate the gravity of this matter. Here we have these children waiting for hours in all weathers to book places for their families in the shelters.

The noble Lord has told us that the difficulty is partly due to lack of co-ordination between the various authorities. Some authorities, I understand, have acted with the greatest promptness, but others have been feeble beyond all words and quite unable to grapple with the position. I feel that this is a case where further dictatorial powers are required. The Ministry of Health should have power to deal with the position, or, if necessary, some dictator should be appointed who can overrule the various authorities and compel immediate action. I do not want to appear to underestimate the quite extraordinary difficulty of the problem—a problem in many ways unexpected and of unique difficulty. It is so serious, however, that I think that any opposition on the part of local authorities ought to be overridden, and the Government should be armed with the fullest powers to deal with this matter, which affects the health of the whole community. They should deal with it drastically and promptly.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words on this subject, because I was extremely interested in the speech of the noble Lord opposite. We should all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Addison, for bringing forward this Motion, because, as he rightly says, it does show that Parliament has some uses in these days. As my noble friend Lord Horder has said, the whole policy in regard to shelters has changed. At the beginning they were put up largely for protection against splinters during the day, but to-day they are being used by very large numbers of people for protection during the night as well. I think that the recommendations of Lord Horder's Committee are most valuable. Most of the local authorities have acted upon them, but I should like to re-echo what Lord Horder has said about the difficulties of local authorities—the enormous amount of work which they have to do and the unending responsibility thrown upon the chief officials. Another point which is very material is that it is impossible to get sufficient labour. Recently we have had the help of the Army. I think that the Army ought to have been brought in much earlier for certain purposes, such as demolition, but at last we are obtaining their help. Sanitary conditions, I agree, have been horrible, but there again, when the authorities went to the labour exchanges they could not get the people to do the work. We are now able to obtain them to some extent. The conditions were disgusting, but, as Lord Horder and his Committee know, those things are being remedied, and remedied very speedily.

The question of shelter tickets is being dealt with, but I should like to mention one curious thing which is happening. I went to one of the big shelters last night and asked the shelter marshal how things were going and whether there was very much pressure. He said, "No, people seem to have found their places, and they like to come here because they all know each other." That is happening in a great many places. They have now settled down, and there is not the rush that there was when the Blitzkrieg over London began. Speaking of London, the various boroughs are making every provision to take in an additional number of people, and are making deep shelters in the basements of the better-built houses. As you go along the streets you will notice brick walls put up to protect the basements from blast. This work takes a good deal of time, because of the difficulty of obtaining material, but no doubt in this way some of the overcrowding that still exists will be relieved.

There is one other point to which I should like to draw attention. Lord Addison referred to a dictator. Not only in London, but all over the country we have people going round on behalf of the regional administrations, and it is their duty to bring any defects to the notice of the regional authorities, who are over the local authorities. The local authorities cannot do very much without the permis- sion of the regional authority. If any borough or area is not doing its work, it can be dealt with in the same way as was one borough in London, where the whole administration was put under an official who was made responsible to the Ministry of Home Security. I quite admit that some boroughs and some areas are not up to the mark, but there is surely ample machinery for communication with the regional authorities and with the Ministry of Home Security, so that matters may be put upon a proper basis.

I quite admit that there is a great deal to be done. There is an enormous amount of work still to be done on this very difficult question, which so seriously affects the health of the people. In view of the shortness of time and of the difficulties in regard to labour and materials, and in view of the amount of work thrown on the officials, I consider that a great deal has already been done. That is not to say that perfection has been achieved, because that is not by any means the case. Bunks have still to come, but it is difficult to get them at a moment's notice, because so much else is required. I think, however, that progress has been made and I can assure your Lordships that, so far as I know, every effort has been made by the local authorities, especially in London, to cooperate to solve these most important problems.


My Lords, the noble Lord opposite addressed himself very largely to the question of why the Report of Lord Horder's Committee had not been published. The short answer to that question is that there is no one Report to publish. Lord Horder's Committee, like Miss Wilkinson's Committee, was appointed to advise the Government when a pressing emergency arose. They began giving advice almost at once, and the Government are in possession of a number of Reports, and I am able to say also that the noble Lord, Lord Horder, has advised the Ministers responsible verbally. They are here not merely investigating a subject and making a comprehensive Report for the information of the nation: this is a question of almost day-to-day advice given to the Departments concerned as to the steps that become neces- sary, and I have not the slightest doubt that both Lord Horder's Committee and Miss Wilkinson's Committee will have further advice and further recommendations to make to the Government.

That is the reason, and the only reason, why these Reports have not been published. They would not have presented—probably will not even now present—a complete picture, but the Government have been able to publish in a clear and succinct form the various recommendations which have been made and to give a brief statement of what action has been taken on these recommendations. I think it is the case that the public, through this White Paper containing the recommendations, are in a far better position to judge of the meaning of Lord Horder's Report than they would be if they had had in bits and pieces, as they came out and were put before the Government, the various very valuable pieces of advice which Lord Horder has given. In those circumstances you would have had not a complete whole which you have got now but something which, though quite clearly of great value to the Government Departments concerned, would not have presented a comprehensive picture to the general public.

I am glad your Lordships have realised how desperately serious the problems are. They began by being most pressing in London. It was largely in London that this severe problem arose of very large numbers of persons regularly making use of large communal shelters as dormitories. For that reason the Metropolitan area received first attention, and a series of measures has already been taken. But instructions have now been issued for the application of these measures where they are necessary in the areas round London and the provinces. The arrangements made in London aim first at evacuating from London those persons who can best be moved, and dispersing the remaining population among the shelters of various kinds and so avoiding overcrowding. That really is in answer to the questions raised by the right reverend Prelate. It is perfectly appalling, I fully agree, that children should be employed in the way he described.

The Government policy with regard to children is that as far as possible they should be evacuated to places of greater safety. The family feeling in London is very strong, and the Government have been up against serious difficulties in securing evacuation. That applies not only to children—although the evacuation of children, I am glad to say, is steadily proceeding—but also to crippled and aged persons. Quite clearly they can far better be provided for in hospitals in the country than in London, and arrangements have been made both for children to be evacuated to the country and for old people to be transferred to hospitals under the Emergency Hospital Scheme where practicable. But there are many people who have to remain in London who object to parting from their children, and many aged people who object most strongly to leaving the neighbourhood they know. The Government have not taken, and do not at present intend to take, compulsory powers. That would be a great inconvenience in very many ways, but arbitrarily to sever family ties is a very serious step, and one which my right honourable friend does not contemplate taking at present.

The Government scheme further provides—and this is something new—for regular and frequent inspection of the shelters by the medical officer of health of the borough or his assistant medical staff. The noble Lord opposite was critical of the Government because, he said, they only issued circulars, and did nothing. Well, I think in many ways that is a misuse of words. The Minister of Health cannot really go himself spraying the air and so forth, but he can urge and instruct the local authorities to do so. And he has not only instructed and urged local authorities to get ahead with this work, but he has authorised them to engage additional staff where they require it for the purpose, and he has undertaken that the cost of this extra staff shall be carried by the Government, and not by the local authorities. I believe that measure will have, and is already having, an important effect and is bearing fruit.

The general scheme is being supervised through a Medical Branch of the Ministry of Health associated with the Public Health Administrative Division. The Medical Branch includes a team of experts on public health and on epidemics, and a special staff has been allocated to the Public Health Administrative Division. In particular the scheme provides, again at the Government expense and not at the expense of the local authority, for medical and nursing services to be available for people using the larger shelters, and for the installation of "medical aid posts" in those shelters. Ordinarily the borough council will see that a doctor is on call when wanted. In the larger shelters there will be a visiting doctor who will call nightly and be available when required. For the largest shelters of all there may be a resident doctor. In each large shelter there will be a nurse. In securing nursing staff medical officers will no doubt make the fullest possible use of the Civil Nursing Reserve and other bodies concerned with nursing personnel. The medical aid post will be a reserved apartment with (where space permits) beds and bunks, screens, tables and chairs. In those medical aid posts people can be treated for simple ailments and injuries. Suitable instruments and medicines which are being issued from central stores by the Ministry of Health will be kept at these posts.

Further problems are under close examination, particularly with regard to prophylactic measures, such as the possible use of a simple form of face mask to prevent droplet infection, the use of antiseptic sprays, and the question of the best practical measures to be taken against infestation by body vermin. Lord Horder's Committee have offered to hold themselves at the disposal of the Minister of Health and the Minister of Home Security. They are meeting at frequent intervals and are being constantly consulted by the Departments. That again is the real answer to the question of why there, has been no publication of this Report. This is not a closed subject; it is a subject which I have no doubt will present problems which will vary in their nature from time to time as the months go on. Lord Horder's Committee have not completed their work, and they are still doing work of very great value.

The problem is one of appalling difficulty. Your Lordships are very well aware that, although great progress has been made in housing conditions in the last generation or so, we are still very far indeed from being able to say that in ordinary peace-time—and under peace conditions—the housing conditions of very large numbers of our people are anything like satisfactory. We are now confronted with the entirely different problem of finding satisfactory housing conditions for great masses of the population underground where only a very few months ago no one ever contemplated that people would spend more than a limited time at intervals. It is a gigantic problem, and I think the House is greatly indebted to the noble Lord for raising it. I can assure him that the Government are applying themselves very seriously to this question. They are, as the noble Lord, Lord Horder, was good enough to say, paying attention to his recommendations and, as far as possible, carrying them out. They will continue to take whatever steps may be possible to deal with this very pressing and very urgent problem.


My Lords, I feel bound to intervene for a few moments to say that I do not think your Lordships should allow this question of the publication of the Report to remain where the noble Duke has left it. There is a demand for the publication of the fullest information, and nothing could be simpler than to ask Lord Horder's Committee to put into shape the Report, with any additional recommendations they have made during the last two months. If this war, as seems likely, proves to be a long war, and if there are other places besides London and Coventry which, during the course of the war, are liable to attack, we ought to make the fullest provision as a nation for the protection of the populations likely to be affected. To that end we ought to have the fullest information with respect to the experience already obtained.

Let me say further that I do not agree with those who think that no one could have foreseen the circumstances that have now arisen, and that no one is to blame for lack of foresight. As soon as the collapse of France took place, and it became obvious that Germany was in possession of air bases within a few minutes' flight from our towns, the situation was very greatly altered. It was fully expected that there would be violent air attacks upon our cities. If that were not expected, why the great scheme for the evacuation of children, why the provision made for the possible removal of Government Departments and the headquarters staffs of our great banks and industries to other places? If there were to be attacks of this kind, then obviously it was necessary to provide shelters, and shelters were, in fact, provided in large numbers to meet possible eventualities. Should it not have been foreseen that there would be night bombing, and that the population would crowd into these shelters? But apparently no one had given any forethought to these questions of overcrowding, ventilation, sanitation, medical attendance, and sleeping accommodation.

It is necessary that cognisance should be taken of these facts, and although it may be said it does not matter now because the event has happened, and proper precautions were not taken in advance, still, as I say, there are other towns that may be subjected to similar experiences, and it is right that, according to the best scientific and technical advice, action should now be taken and taken in the right direction. I do not think this House should allow this discussion to end—and here I feel sure I shall have the agreement of the whole House—without paying a tribute to Lord Horder and his colleagues for the great activity and promptitude with which they made their recommendations, which have enabled these better steps to be taken which the Government now have in hand.


My Lords, I have only to say a word in conclusion. Whilst I thank the noble Duke for his reply, like my noble friend beside me it did not leave me satisfied. The case I submitted was substantiated by the noble Duke's statement itself. I want to assure my noble friend on the Cross Benches (Lord Horder), though assurance should hardly be necessary, that I had no thought of anything of a political character in putting this Motion down. It had nothing to do with politics at all. It is a matter of the gravest national importance, and I am sure all we want to do is to get the right thing done and done as quickly as possible. When one comes to analyse, as far as one has had the opportunity to analyse, the statement of the noble Duke, he said various steps had been taken, and that instructions have now been issued regarding certain matters affecting the shelters. I am glad of it. The point I make is, who is to secure that effect is given to these instructions? The very serious Minute which the noble Lord read to the House—the interim Minute of his Committee—is the fullest justification of the case I put before the House. I was staggered by that Minute, like the right reverend Prelate. What we want is to see that someone gets these things done. I know that in Westminster, where my noble friend Lord Jessel has a share in the work, they are doing the work actively, but it is not being done actively everywhere.


Surely there is plenty of means of inspection by the officers of the Regional Security? They can go round and see, and the Home Office also send people round to look at these things.


I accept all that the noble Lord says as accurate. There are plenty of people authorised to inspect, and the result of their inspection is, I am afraid, sometimes to reveal a very unhappy state of affairs. What I am concerned with is that, while we have people who can inspect, we have not got a system whereby the results of their inspection can be given effect to. That is all I am talking about. We could not have anything more serious than the Minute of the noble Lord's Committee that he has reported to the House. I feel exactly the same as my noble friend below the Gangway (Viscount Samuel). I am acquainted, and have been for many years, like most of your Lordships, with the procedure of Government Committees. There is no earthly reason why we should not have an interim Report from this Committee, or why the Committee should not be asked to put their Report in a form in which it can be studied not only by people in this House but throughout the country. It is not good enough, in view of this exceedingly grave problem, that we should only have this kind of Paper to which the noble Duke has referred. I feel we ought to know what this Committee has said in a proper form and, if need be, have a series of interim Reports. There is no matter of more urgent importance from the point of view of the health of the people, and I hope that the House will agree to my Motion.

On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?

The House divided: Contents, 10; Not-Contents, 13.

Strafford, E. Winchester, L. Bp. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.) [Teller.]
Samuel, V. Addison, L. Monkswell, L.
Arnold, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Southwark, L. Bp. Faringdon, L.
Simon, V. (L, Chancellor.) FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Lawrence, L.
Stonehaven, V. Newton, L.
Devonshire, D. [Teller.] Rankeillour, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. ClanWilliam.) Templemore, L. [Teller.]
Lucan, E. Teviot, L.
Jessel, L. Tryon, L.

Resolved in the negative and Motion disagreed to accordingly.