AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS. (Hansard, 18 June 1936)
HC Deb 18 June 1936 vol 313 cc1153-6
16. Mr. GALLACHER

asked the Home Secretary whether pharmacists are to be employed as gas-detection officers; what qualifications they have for the work; and what steps are to be taken to train them to do the work adequately?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

My Department has had under consideration a scheme by which persons with a basic knowledge of chemistry might be recruited as gas-detection officers in populous parts of the country. A scheme of instruction has been devised, and the Civilian Anti-Gas School will be available for the purpose.

18. Mr. EMMOTT

asked the Home Secretary what facilities have been provided in the London area for doctors wishing to obtain instruction in the treatment of poison-gas cases?

21. Mr. SANDYS

asked the Home Secretary whether any specific instructions have been given to medical practitioners as to their responsibilities and duties in the event of air raids; and whether gasmasks and gas-proof suits have been issued to them in order to enable them to render first-aid in the streets?

Mr. LLOYD

The General Medical Council and the British Medical Association have been consulted on this matter, and arrangements for giving instruction to medical practitioners in the treatment of poison gas cases are under consideration. The Air Raid Precautions Department are accumulating stores of respirators and other means of protection for all public air raid precautionary services.

Mr. SANDYS

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether doctors who are not members of the British Medical Association have been told of the facilities which are available?

Mr. LLOYD

A pamphlet is being prepared and will shortly be on sale at the Stationery Office. Of course, the matter the hon. Member has raised is under consideration.

Mr. LOUIS SMITH

Are the same arrangements being made in other large industrial areas?

Mr. LLOYD

Yes, this applies to the country as a whole.

Mr. COCKS

Will the hon. Gentleman get the latest information from Rome?

19 and 20. Mr. CARTLAND

asked the Home Secretary (1) what steps are being taken to instruct householders as to the methods they can adopt to render their rooms proof against poison gas in the event of air raids;

(2) whether it is his intention to issue recommendations to the general public as to their behaviour in the event of air raids?

Mr. LLOYD

A handbook on the precautionary measures which members of the public should take in the event of air raids is in an advanced state of preparation.

Mr. CARTLAND

Is it the intention of the Home Office to issue a hand book on the lines of the Highway Code?

Mr. LLOYD

Yes, Sir.

Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS

Will my hon. Friend make sure that it is read, because the Highway Code is not?

22. Mr. SANDYS

asked the Home Secretary whether all local authorities in the United Kingdom have been asked to participate in air-raid precautionary schemes within their areas; and how many local authorities have intimated officially or semi-officially their unwillingness to co-operate?

Mr. LLOYD

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the latter part, 14 authorities have informed the Government that they do not propose to co-operate.

Mr. SANDYS

Does the hon. Gentleman think it right that certain local authorities, few though they may be, should, for reasons of party prejudice, endanger the safety of the population; and, if not, will he consider taking powers to compel them to co-operate?

Mr. LLOYD

There are over 1,600 local authorities, and, as I pointed out in my answer, only 14 have said that they will not co-operate. I would point out that in the past there were a larger number which took that attitude, but we have witnessed in the last few months a progressive and increasing movement among local authorities, who had previously said they would not co-operate, to realise their responsibilities to the population.

Mr. H. MORRISON

Is it not the case from the hon. Gentleman's experience that these partisan questions in Parliament on this matter do more harm than good?

Vice-Admiral TAYLOR

Is not this a national matter for which the Government are responsible, and should it not be outside the jurisdiction of local authorities?

26. Captain PLUGGE

asked the Home Secretary what is the estimated annual output of trainees from the new anti-gas school at Eastwood Park operated by the Air Raids Precautions Department of the Home Office; and whether consideration has been given to the desirability of having additional schools in other parts of the country?

Mr. LLOYD

It is hoped that, under present arrangements, the output of the Civilian Anti-Gas School at Falfield in a full year would be in the region of 600 fully-trained instructors, in addition to the provision of short courses for some 250 doctors and other specialists. It has been decided that this output shall be increased, and the steps by which this may be effected are being examined.

Captain PLUGGE

Is the hon. Member aware that many of the more enthusiastic local authorities consider that the number of trained men is not sufficient to cope with the problem?

Mr. LLOYD

I appreciate the hon. and gallant Member's point, but I would point out that every instructor who leaves the anti-gas school is himself capable of training others. Such an instructor when he returns to his own district can train a class of 20 men in 24 hours of training, and it will be seen that the numbers involved can easily rise to tens of thousands.

28. Major MILLS

asked the Home Secretary whether the Air Raids Precautions Department have approached or will approach the Port of London Authority to ensure that at any rate some part of the proposed new store sheds may be made bomb and gas-proof with a view to protecting some part of the food supplies stored at the London docks?

Mr. LLOYD

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence on this subject on 27th May.

Major MILLS

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence referred me to the Home Office?

Mr. LLOYD

Yes, Sir, but he informed the hon. and gallant Member that the Air Raids Precautions Department were taking steps in the matter and have approached the Port of London Authority, who have referred the matter to their chief engineer.

GLOBAL ISLES COURT OF RECORD