§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THEPARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA AND BURMA (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, in 1937 Parliament passed an Act called the Air Raid Precautions Act. Section 10 of that Act laid upon the Home Secretary, whose functions have since been transferred to the Minister of Home Security, the duty of causing an investigation to be made into the workings of the financial provisions 629 of that Act within three years. The investigation was to be made in consultation with such associations of local authorities as might appear to him to be concerned and with any local authorities with whom consultation appeared to be desirable, with particular reference to the expense to be borne by local rates. The duty was also laid on him of making a report to Parliament of the results of his investigation. Preliminary discussions on the subject took place in the early part of last year between Sir John Anderson, who was then Minister of Home Security, and representatives of the local authorities, but they were suspended because local authorities, and indeed the Government Department concerned, found themselves too much occupied with the active and urgent development of civil defence measures to enable them to give the necessary time and attention to this financial investigation, which might clearly involve the collection and collation of a very large amount of statistical material.
Consultation with the local authorities was resumed last December, and it was then agreed that Parliament should be asked to extend by one year the period during which the investigation is to be made. That is the object of the Bill, and it is the only object. It is a very simple Bill, and I hope your Lordships will be prepared to pass it. My right honourable friend the Minister of Home Security tells me that he does not intend to avail himself of the full period allowed by the Bill, and means to proceed with this investigation and consultation as soon as opportunity offers. The Departments concerned are already in active consultation with the representatives of the local authorities, and agreement with them has already been reached as to the general plan on which the investigation should proceed. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ On Question, Bill read 23, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.