20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 5


SOME single authority, it is clear, with a man of proved and exceptional competence at the head of it, ought to take in hand the problem of London under fire. Admirably—indeed incredibly well—as the civilian services are working at immense sacrifice, there are questions involving the homeless at every turn that have never been adequately considered, and show no signs of being adequately solved. With actual housing a start has been made by the commandeering of accommodation in other parts of London, but here again it would seem that some central authority is needed. Emergency co-ordination between local authorities, the L.C.C. and the Borough Councils is not easy to achieve. The local authorities, moreover, are seriously at fault in some respects. In spite of the Prime Minister's appeal their officials still seem to treat the " alert " as an " alarm," and stop work on the first note. I hear of one case in particular in which an immense queue of poor applicants for emergency ration-books in an East End borough were kept waiting hour after hour because whenever the sirens went the doors of the offices were immediately closed. The banks, where applicants of another class need to draw ready money to pay for emergency accommodation, close their doors as precipitately. It is not clear what part the Regional Commissioner for London is playing in all this. Surely the emergency for which his office was created has arrived.

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