§ 19. Mr. Messer
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the severe financial obligation which will be placed on scheme-making authorities by the operation of the provisions of Circular 157; and whether he will favourably consider the representations which have been made to him that equipment and uniform for Civil Defence workers should be a national charge?
§ 21. Mr. R. C. Morrison
asked the Home Secretary whether he has any statement to make upon the communication addressed to him by the County Councils' Association, indicating the concern of county councils at the heavy expenditure which will devolve upon local rates, in respect of the issue of battle-dress and equipment to the civil defence personnel; and is he aware that in the county of Middlesex the charge upon the county rate will involve an addition of approximately£83,000, exceeding a Id. rate?
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The majority of the equipment for Civil Defence services, including anti-gas clothing, is provided at the cost of the Exchequer, but the provision of uniform has always been a matter for the local authorities with the aid of grant, and I can find no sufficient reason for varying this arrangement. A reply is being sent to the County Councils' Association in this sense.
§ Mr. Messer
Will my right hon. Friend give this more reflection and greater consideration, because it will be a heavy burden on the local rates for what should be a national charge?
§ Mr. Morrison
I gave this matter careful and full consideration and reflection before I answered the Question, and, indeed, at the time I made the decision. I really think that the financial arrangements with the local authorities are not ungenerous. In the case of uniforms, in which economical administration is so desirable, it is not unreasonable that the authorities should bear the small part of the expenditure we now call upon them to bear.
§ Sir Reginald Blair
Will the right hon. Gentleman say why, if the Civil Defence personnel are ordered to wear battle dress, they should be placed in any different position from the Armed Forces of the Crown?
§ Mr. Morrison
Because they are not Armed Forces of the Crown. They are part of the Civil Defence organisation, as to which long negotiations took place with the local authorities. A settlement was reached, and in that settlement uniforms remained a grant-aided service.