14 OCTOBER 1938, Page 3

A.R.P. Negligence The fear that fell on London and other

large towns a fortnight ago will have done some good if it brings home to everyone the pitiful inadequacy of A.R.P. in this country. All who have studied the various reports that have been issued on the last-minute arrangements that were made will repeat Mr. Herbert Morrison's demand that the " incom- petents " should be rooted out, even though they are to be found in the Cabinet itself. It is now clear that the distribu- tion of gas-masks, without instructions how to use and keep them, has meant that by now many are naturally ruined. Not one local authority in fifty was prepared to meet the emergency when it arrived. It large cities like Birmingham no trenches at all were fully completed ; in Leeds only a half of the required number were dug ; in St. Pancras only a quarter. For the country as a whole it is estimated that i,000,000 A.R.P. workers are required ; 550,003 were available, many of them having volunteered, untrained, in the last few days. The ordinary householder, owing to the delay in issuing a Householder's Handbook, was in complete ignorance of his proper course of action. Anti-aircraft guns were lacking. Much blame must be assigned to apathetic local authorities ; but there can be no doubt that the greatest blame must be borne at the centre. Sir Samuel Hoare and Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd will have a formidable case to answer when Parliament meets.

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