HC Deb 26 July 1915 vol 73 cc1940-1
25. Mr. COWAN

asked the Home Secretary what are the functions and powers of district emergency committees; by whom and on what principle the members of such committees are appointed; and whether individual committees are permitted on their own initiative to issue warnings instructing the civil population as to its action in the event of invasion by Germany; and, if so, whether, in order to avoid unnecessary panic in isolated districts, he will take steps to ensure that such warnings shall for the future be issued only on the instructions of some competent superior authority and with due regard to uniformity in all areas similarly circumstanced?


Emergency committees have been appointed at the request of the Government by the Lords Lieutenant of the counties on the East and South Coasts. These committees include representatives of the military and police authorities, and their chief duty is, in co-operation with the military authorities and the police, to organise the action to be taken by the civil population in the event of a hostile landing. The Government laid down certain general instructions which have been issued by the Home Office, and the committees carry them out under the supervision of the Lord Lieutenant, who is assisted in each county by a central organising committee, on which the military authorities are also represented. In view of the varying conditions in each locality the details of the arrangements are necessarily left to the local military authorities and the committees, subject to the general instruction that they should avoid any action or statement likely to cause alarm or panic


Is the House to understand that this is done only after the consultation with the military authorities?


I think the information I have given is correct.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question, whether these orders are given by the Home Office after consultation with the military authorities?


I think I have answered that question.