§ 3.46 p.m.
§ The Chairman
I understand that it would meet the convenience of the Committee if the first Amendment were discussed along with the last two Amendments on page 90 of the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, to leave out from "be," to the second "of," and to insert "the duty."
I think that the course which you have suggested, Major Milner, will be a convenient one, because it is a little difficult for the Committee to come to a decision on the first Amendment, which is whether the Clause should impose a duty upon the designated Minister or merely allot to him certain functions, without going into some discussion as to who the designated Minister shall be.
Throughout this Bill the phrase is used "the designated Minister" and it is upon him that responsibility in the main rests. It is the designated Minister who will exercise all the very great powers set out in Clause 6. We think that the Bill should place a definite duty upon a 1820 definite Minister. Civil Defence is a matter of vital importance, and we think that it is not sufficient simply to say that the matters set out in Clause 1 shall be part of some one or other Minister's functions. We feel that the Bill should impose a definite duty upon a Minister for the exercise of which he should be answerable to Parliament.
Therefore, we suggest that the opening words of Clause 1 (1) should be:It shall be the duty of the designated Minister.The use of the words "designated Minister," seems to imply that the Government have not as yet come to any decision as to which Minister should be primarily responsible for Civil Defence matters. We feel, of course, that the Government might by now have taken a decision upon this matter. If hon. Members will refer to the definition Clause in the Bill—Clause 9 (2)—they will see that it says:In this Act, the expression 'the designated Minister' means such Minister, or such Ministers acting jointly, as may be designated by Order in Council, and different Ministers may be designated for different purposes or different provisions of this Act.If we have to use this method of not specifying at this stage who the Minister shall be, we should, o at any rate, like the definition Clause to read:The designated Minister means such Minister as may be designated by Order in Council,and simply leave the matter there.
We do not at all like the idea that primary responsibility should be spread over a whole group of Ministers, nor do we like the idea of six or seven different Ministers—for quite a number of Ministers are involved in Civil Defence matters—each prescribing Regulations of the very far-reaching character which are envisaged by Clause 6. Under that Clause wider powers are given to Ministers to proceed by Regulation than in any Bill ever before presented to this House. It seems to us, therefore, that there should be a single Minister charged with responsibility under this Bill. We do not like the idea that the "designated Minister" should mean a group of Ministers each with some part of the responsibility which is laid upon the designated Minister by Clause 1.
Clause 1 already provides, in Subsection (2), that the designated Minister may 1821 make arrangements whereby any of his functions under this Clause may be exercised on his behalf by another Minister. That is quite all right. It is quite proper that the Minister who has the primary responsibility in this matter should be able to delegate functions to other Ministers. In Civil Defence a vast number of different Ministries are concerned. During the war, on occasions I attended the Civil Defence Committee which used to meet every morning, or nearly every morning, at the Home Office. Under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Home Security, as he then was, there used to sit other Ministers or Under-Secretaries drawn, I should think, from eight or nine different Departments. It is perfectly clear that in Civil Defence matters there must be a power of delegation, but it seems to us highly objectionable that the "designated minister" should mean a composite body consisting of perhaps eight, nine or ten different Ministers.
We feel very emphatically that in a matter of this vital importance there should be one Minister who has primary responsibility. It would be quite simple to draw the Bill in that way, to place the primary responsibility upon a single Minister and to give him powers of delegation to other Ministers in regard to part of his functions. I also feel that when Regulations of a most far-reaching character, possibly even providing for a conscript army of Civil Defence Services, are presented to this House, as they may be presented under Clause 6, there should be one Minister who takes responsibility. I think it will be an intolerable position if, when Regulations under Clause 6, providing for all manner of things, are presented to this House, we have to look to perhaps half-a-dozen Ministers to answer for them.
We feel, therefore, that this Bill should put a duty upon a Minister rather than simply say it is part of his functions. After all, there are many Ministers who have many functions and a great many of them they very seldom have any reason to exercise. We feel that this is such an important matter that the word should be "duty"—a duty placed on a single Minister who should be either designated or named in the Bill.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
There are two alternative ways in which this service can 1822 be organised. The right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) has advocated one alternative. The structure of the Bill proceeds on the basis of the other alternative. In considering the two alternatives we should bear in mind that this Bill deals with a period of preparation. Much of what the right hon. Gentleman said would have had more force on a Bill to deal with the way in which Civil Defence should be administered after a conflict had broken out.
The Committee are entitled to know the way in which the Government think Civil Defence should be organised on the Ministerial side during the preparation period, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising the matter so early in the discussion of the Bill. The ultimate responsibility for the co-ordination of defence as a whole rests with the Defence Committee, of which the Prime Minister is Chairman and the Minister of Defence Deputy-Chairman. Within that field the Home Secretary has general responsibility for co-ordinating the preparation of Civil Defence Measures, as the Minister of Defence has for coordinating functions in respect of the Fighting Services and their supply. For some of the Services directly contributing to Civil Defence, for example the Police and the Fire Services in England and Wales, the Home Secretary has direct responsibility, and in respect of those Services he will be the designated Minister.
Other Ministers will assume direct responsibility for the Services closely connected with their peace-time responsibilities—for example, the Minister of Health for hospitals, the Minister of Transport for roads, railways, docks and harbours, and the Minister of Food for the maintenance and distribution of food supplies. Supervising all these Services are functions which they normally carry out and certainly in this preparatory period they will be the appropriate Ministers to see that adequate preparation is made for Civil Defence. There will be some Services involving more than one Minister and I would take, as an example, the problem of evacuation, which certainly will call on the Ministers of Health, Education, Transport and Food. From my experience of the last war, I think that possibly if the part some of 1823 these Ministries were to play in evacuation had been recognised a little earlier some of the difficulties which arose might have been avoided.
In pursuance of his general functions, the Home Secretary will secure effective collaboration between the Departments which are jointly responsible for Civil Defence measures and will also make certain that there is no overlapping or duplication and that no field of preparation is left uncovered. This necessarily involves much inter-Departmental work. The necessary committee organisation for this purpose has been established at both the Ministerial and the official levels.
That is the set-up which the Government favour, and not the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman, which might mean the appointment now of a Minister of Home Security, or assigning to one of the sinecure Departments that particular function, or it might mean making the Home Secretary, whose office is certainly no sinecure, the Minister responsible for the whole of these services. That seems to me to involve a machine which does not take into account the necessary detailed work that must be done in the Departments like the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Food, with regard to this matter.
It is quite clear that any Minister, whether he be a Minister of Home Security or another Minister, who takes on this duty in addition to his ordinary duties, must rely on those Departmental Ministers to see that the effective detailed work is done. I believe that it will be best done in those Departments which are fully responsible for it; but it will be the duty of the Home Secretary of the day to see that where two Departments have functions that may involve both in a particular service, each does its allocated share, that there is no gap left, and that there is no duplication.
I think, and the Government think, that at this stage it would be quite wrong, in view of the way in which this subject is being approached, for us to set up a separate Ministry of Home Security, or so to concentrate the work in the hands of one Minister that he would be virtually the Minister of Home Security. We have every intention of 1824 seeing that each of the Services is fully prepared, but I think that the responsibility of each of the Government Departments should be put fairly and squarely on that Department, and that the Minister concerned should be directly responsible to the House and to public opinion for the state of preparedness in his particular section of the work.
As to the question of regulations, whether under Clause 6 or any other Clauses of the Bill. Clause 6 deals with a limited but important range of subjects. The regulations to be made under Clause 2 I would regard as being quite as important as those under Clause 6—the regulations imposing duties on local authorities, and so on. It is eminently desirable that the House should be fully aware as to which Minister is responsible for the regulations, and that they should be presented to the House and, if necessary, defended before the House by the Minister at the head of that Department.
There are, then, two alternative ways of doing it. It may very well be that if we were in a crisis period, when we were expecting that the need to put these various powers into force in actual conflict was impending, it would be desirable that there should be a single Minister charged with the duties; but approaching the subject in the way in which this Bill does, it would be a mistake to make one Minister solely responsible. In saying that I do not want in any way to belittle the fact that the Home Secretary of the day will be the person who will be responsible for seeing that the team is working, that the team is working together, and that the whole of the ground is covered.
§ Sir John Anderson (Scottish Universities)
There are certain observations I should like to submit to the Committee and to the right hon. Gentleman, in no controversial spirit, on this very important question of organisation. The right hon. Gentleman said, quite rightly, that there are two alternative methods of approach, as indicated by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake)—the approach by way of delegation, and the approach by way of designation of a number of Ministers who are to collaborate in building up this structure of Civil Defence. Our first criticism of this Bill is that it seems to adopt both approaches because in 1825 Clause 1 we have the power of delegation by a designated Minister, and in the definition Clause we have clearly in contemplation the designation of a number of Ministers. We think that the attempt to combine those two conceptions is bound to lead to a certain amount of confusion; and in this matter the last thing we want to have is confusion or any doubt as to where responsibility really rests.
The right hon. Gentleman, in describing the conception which the Government have formed in regard to designation of a number of Ministers, made an observation which I think requires rather close scrutiny. He said that in the Government's view the Home Secretary will he the designated Minister in respect, for example, of the police services, and that the Minister of Health or the Minister of Transport or the Minister of Food will be designated in respect of other services.
The first observation I should like to make on that is that there is nothing, so far as I can see, in this Bill which interferes with the ordinary functions of any Departmental Minister. The Home Secretary has functions with regard to the police derived from his constitutional position as Home Secretary and apart from this Bill; and the same is true of the Minister of Health, the Minister of Food and the Minister of Transport. This Bill is concerned with responsibilities in relation to Civil Defence, and only with such responsibilities. I should think that it is quite unnecessary to designate the Home Secretary, for example, as Minister who is responsible for the strict sphere of police duties, for which he is already responsible.
The view that I would submit to the Committee is, that in order to secure effective collaboration—the right hon. Gentleman did not like the word "co-ordination" when he spoke on Second Reading, and I will try to avoid it—in order to try to ensure effective collaboration between a number of Ministers who already have functions which are relevant to Civil Defence as part of their ordinary duties, the simple and straightforward approach is the one advocated by my right hon. Friend, by which one Minister would be designated and would thereby come into the position—which I thought the right hon. Gentleman in his Second Reading speech accurately described as 1826 that of "presiding Minister"—which would then enable him to bring together in relation to Civil Defence, the work of all those other Ministers who already have the functions that are relevant in that connection.
I would not myself be disposed to follow the right hon. Gentleman wholly in the distinction which he sought to draw between the period of preparation and the period of actual emergency. We are, of course, dealing here primarily with the period of preparation, although, no doubt, the provisions of this Bill would carry forward, if occasion should arise, into the period of emergency. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that in the period of preparation preceding the last war, a Minister was entrusted with duties over the whole field of Civil Defence, which duties he derived, in the first instance, entirely by delegation from one Minister—the Home Secretary. That is a fact. The Lord Privy Seal, who was made responsible for the preparatory work in connection with Civil Defence, derived his functions by way of delegation from the Home Secretary, and I do not think that anything but advantage flowed from that procedure. It defined his position as chairman of a body of Ministers in constant session engaged in this preparatory work.
May I pass from that to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the regulations. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds argued, I think very convincingly, in favour of having the regulations made by one designated Minister. That was in fact the position before and during the last war, because then the regulations were made by Order in Council—regulations covering the whole of Civil Defence. They were not Departmental regulations, and for all the defence regulations one Minister was responsible—the Home Secretary. There was great advantage in that. I see a great practical difficulty—and I hope we are dealing with this matter entirely from the practical point of view—in dividing up some of these codes of regulations, and saying, "This is made by one Minister and that is made by another Minister," when they are all designed to dovetail together. I think if we are to abandon, as this Bill proposes, procedure by Order in Council, which imparts a collective responsibility on the 1827 part of the Ministry as a whole it is a very strong argument, especially when we are falling back on procedure by way of Departmental regulations, to have one Minister clearly designated, whether he be the Home Secretary or, later on, some Minister specially appointed and charged with duties in relation to Civil Defence.
I would argue further, and submit this with all deference to the consideration of the Committee, that the balance of argument is in fact very strong on the side of having one designated Minister whom the House will hold generally responsible for Civil Defence matters, without derogation from the specific duties of any Minister who is charged by virtue of his position as Minister with functions which are relevant to Civil Defence, either by way of law and order, transport, food or health or whatever they may be; and the Home Secretary should be, as is contemplated in Clause 1, in a position to delegate to such Departmental Ministers Civil Defence functions which would thereby be added to the normal functions of the Departmental Minister.
The Home Secretary spoke of the importance of making a Minister fully responsible to this House for his actions in his own particular sphere. He seemed, I thought, to be implying that the Minister to whom functions are delegated under Clause 1 will not be so fully responsible to the House for the discharge of those functions as he would be if he were separately designated as the Minister under the definition Clause. Is that, I wonder, the correct view? I should have thought speaking subject to correction, that if, for example, under Clause 1 the Minister designated in the first instance delegated certain functions to a colleague, that colleague would thereby become responsible because he would be discharging those functions as a responsible Minister of the Crown. I submit that to the Committee with a good deal of confidence as the correct constitutional view; otherwise, I think a grave doubt will be thrown on the whole conception of delegation as it appears in Clause 1. Is the Minister to whom powers are delegated to become a mere creature of the designated Minister, a mere subordinate, and not a Minister responsible to this House? I think that the answer to that must be "No." 1828 For these reasons, I ask the Home Secretary if he would look at this matter again. It is simply a question of getting the most effective "set-up," if I may use that expression. I see that the right hon. Gentleman might be under a slight disadvantage if he appeared to be aggrandising his own position by claiming to be the responsible Minister over the whole field, but I think that would be false modesty on his part, and I say that he should take courage and face the House, and adopt the suggestion which my right hon. Friend has made.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
I thought when I listened to the Home Secretary that his real sympathies were with the Amendment and not with the defence of the Clause as it stands. He said that he thought that the Amendment would be acceptable, and he thought, indeed, that it would be good if it applied to a period of emergency——
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
—that it might be good if it applied to the emergency. The powers that are handed over under Clauses 2 and 6 of the Bill are as varied powers as would be necessary in an emergency. There would scarcely be any wider powers necessary. It is much more convenient, not only to this House, but for the purposes of administration, that there should be one Minister in control, even in the period of preparation. If the powers are handed over as in Clause 1, every Minister designated would be his own judge in the matter of preparation. There might be, if we had three, four, five or six Ministers responsible, five different standards of preparation for Civil Defence and no one Minister responsible for insuring that there was a uniform standard between the different Ministers. One Minister could do anything he chose, and there would be no one to say anything to him if he did nothing, except possibly by means of a Debate in this House. Therefore, it would be in the interest of Civil Defence itself and of the Government that there should be one Minister with overriding responsibility who could delegate his responsibility to other Ministers, but there should be one Minister responsible for a uniform standard of defence and one Minister responsible to this House.
§ Sir Stanley Holmes (Harwich)
If an important company in this country decided that it would open a new side of its business the board of directors would have to call upon a number of heads of departments in order to prepare the scheme—the engineering department, the transport department, the despatch department and many others. No board of directors in their senses would think of calling upon eight or nine heads of departments to prepare the scheme without making one of their senior executives responsible for the scheme as a whole. The senior executive put in charge would then be able to call upon all the others to do their share in preparing the scheme. If they did not do it he would be able to go to the chairman and managing director of the company and say, "This department is not pulling its weight in preparing the scheme; I want your help with regard to it." One man would be responsible, and in no other way would a business be able to prepare a proper scheme for a new venture like that.
Perhaps a business illustration is of no interest to the Government Front Bench, because I think I am right in saying that not one Minister, either senior or junior, has ever had any experience in active business management. However, I venture to say that just as our successful businesses would organise in the way I have suggested, by putting one man in charge of a scheme, so the Prime Minister in drawing up this scheme should have one Minister in charge, and the rest assisting him.
§ Mr. E. P. Smith (Ashford)
After listening very carefully to what the Home Secretary said, I must confess that I find it very difficult to see why he cannot accept this Amendment, even if the words "designated Minister" have their plural possibilities, as apparently they have under Clause 9 (2). I want, not to touch on that wider aspect, which has already been discussed, but for a moment to discuss the narrower aspect of the Amendment, which seeks to substitute the words "the duty" for "part of the functions." I should have thought that if a thing were part of the functions of a Minister, designated or not, it was also his duty, and I cannot see why the words "the duty" cannot be used in substitution for the rather unpleasant jargon "part of the functions." I submit it is 1830 much better, simpler, clearer and more honest English. Take, for instance, the case of a Minister being guilty of a dereliction of duty. Are we, in future, to talk of his being guilty of a "dereliction of part of his functions"? I do plead with the Home Secretary, in the interests of clear and relatively concise English, to accept the Amendment on those grounds alone.
§ Mr. Burden (Sheffield, Park)
I am bound to say I feel that a good deal of this discussion is about words, and words only. I think that the Bill as it stands places fairly and squarely on the shoulders of a Minister the functions set forth in paragraphs (a) to (e). Obviously, one Minister must be, and will be under the terms of this Clause, responsible, but in the working out of the scheme he will have the assistance of other Ministers and other Departments. That flow from the words themselves. For example, we cannot expect the Minister to take on the whole of the detailed working out of provisions for dealing with the contamination of foodstuffs and the prevention of troubles arising from it.
§ Mr. Peake
I think the words in Subsection (2) of the definition Clause, Clause 9,'the designated Minister' means … such Ministers acting jointly, as may be designatedmust have escaped the attention of the hon. Member when he says that one Minister is bound under the Bill to enjoy primary responsibility.
§ Mr. Burden
I quite agree, but they act jointly to achieve the purpose, which is the primary responsibility of one Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, that seems to me the clear intention of the Clause. We want to get the best pattern in this Bill, and I suggest to hon. Members who press this Amendment that if an organisation of this kind is set up right at the top it must, of necessity, be carried right down; there cannot be varying types of organisation. When we get down to the operative bodies, the local authorities, and say that one Department must have everything under its own control, that is flying dead against all experience during the last war. I suggest that the Home Secretary has made an adequate defence of the present wording, which I hope will be accepted.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
I cannot understand why the Home Secretary cannot accept this Amendment. Who will preside over this departmental committee? Who is the Minister? I cannot find anything in the Bill which makes it clear that any one man is responsible for the preparation of home defence. Who is the man who will be responsible to this House? I feel that it is all too vague. The Home Secretary spoke of the period of preparation, during which presumably the scheme must be got ready to deal with the emergency when it arises. In all probability the emergency will arise very quickly, and there may then be five Departments, each with its own little scheme, the local authorities and the police, with no one in charge of the proceedings at all. I cannot understand how such a scheme can possibly succeed.
§ Mr. Howard (Westminster, St. George's)
I entirely agree with the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden), that we want to get the best pattern. Where I disagree with him is in his contention that the words of this Bill do what he alleges they do. In support of my view, I remind the Committee of the words which the Home Secretary used during Second Reading:It is intended that the Governmental responsibility for the new Civil Defence organisation shall be shared … by the Ministers whose peace-time functions are analagous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1092.]I admit that the Home Secretary has gone much further this afternoon. I could not take his words down exactly, but I think he said that the Home Secretary would be responsible for seeing that the team was working and that the whole ground was covered. If he really means that, surely he is saying that he agrees with the substance of our Amendment.
My next point is a verbal one, which also has some psychological significance. I draw attention to the difference between the words "functions" and "duties." I am not concerned with the dictionary meaning of those words, but I am concerned with the Clauses in the Bill. In dealing with the responsibilities of the central Government and of local authorities the word "functions" is used, but when we get down to the individual citizen who is expected to give services the word "duty" is used. I suggest that 1832 if it is right that this Bill should call on invidual citizens to perform certain duties it is equally right that it should call on the Government and local authorities to perform duties and not merely functions.
Lastly, I wish to support my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) in his reference to the value of any orders which may be issued in future coming through one central Ministry. As the Home Secretary knows only too well, there is a real importance in co-ordination—however much he may dislike that word—and I believe that there would be practical advantages in having all the orders, whether prepared by other Ministries or not, "vetted" by one Minister before being put out in draft form.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
I had little intention of taking part in this Debate, but after listening to the speeches it seems to me that we are in danger of forgetting our experience during the war. During the war I was a member of an emergency committee, and it is my recollection that most of the functions of Civil Defence were primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Home Security. He was responsible for the organisation, the training and the setting up of the different services, and it was through him that the other Ministries came in. For example, the Ministry of Health was concerned with evacuation, as well as the Ministry of Education, in its early stages, and the Minister of Food was called upon in connection with emergency feeding schemes. Generally speaking, the organisation was through the local authorities. I do not think that we should depart from that experience, unless it can be shown that we can reasonably improve upon it, which certainly has not been proved in this Debate. The primary responsibility should be with the Home Office because they are responsible for so many of the Civil Defence services and will continue to be. I see no reason therefore for any change in the Bill.
§ General Sir George Jeffreys (Peters-field)
I want also to say a word from the point of view of the emergency committees. I was the chairman of one of these committees during the war. I am 1833 perfectly certain that the more independent Ministers are of one another in this matter of Civil Defence, the more independent will be their subordinates. From my experience—and here I differ from Members opposite—the representatives of the various Ministries at regional headquarters, with whom we had to deal, were not working in very close liaison with one another. They seemed unnecessarily to hold up proposals made by the emergency committees, which in many cases were very urgent, and caused delay and overlapping. There is very little between us and the right hon. Gentleman in this matter. The plea we make for the concentration of the chief responsibility in one Minister is a sound one, if only from the point of view of his subordinates, and I hope that the Home Secretary will think again about this matter.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to this Bill as being principally concerned with the preparatory stages. I submit that the preparatory stage will be a very important one. We do not want any unnecessary delays, but to go ahead making use of the experience of the last war and avoiding any of our previous mistakes. I submit that there was a good deal of unnecessary delay during the last war due to the dissipation of responsibility between the various Ministries, and that it would be very much better if this small Amendment in words, which is really an important one with regard to the functions of the designate Minister, could be accepted.
§ Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)
As a result of my experience in Civil Defence during the last war, I hoped that in any future measure on Civil Defence one Minister would be responsible for the issuing of orders. Therefore, when I read this Bill the first thing that struck me as being most unfortunate was the fact that there was to be this divided responsibility. Although the Home Secretary is apparently to be the paramount Minister, he intends that some of his duties or functions shall be delegated. I cannot understand why it should be necessary to delegate any of the functions that were exercised under Civil Defence during the last war. I cannot understand why the local authorities, upon whom most of these duties will fall, should be required to divide 1834 their attentions as between the various Ministers.
I am sure that the local authorities would be more than content to take all their orders from one Minister. I do not know whether the Home Secretary believes it to be essential that the other Ministers should also have their fingers in the pie. I agree that past experience is not always a pointer for the future, but I am perfectly certain—and I hope the Home Secretary will try to help the local authorities in this regard—that one Minister only should be responsible for the orders; otherwise the local authorities will simply be faced with difficulties and delays by having to go to this Minister or that Minister to do something which they have to do anyway. For my own experience in the last war, I am convinced that if there had been only one Minister to deal with, many vexatious delays could have been avoided.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
This matter of responsibility is obviously an important one. That is why we have to consider very carefully whether single or multiple responsibility is the better. The Committee naturally listens to the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) with great respect on a matter of this kind, but it does not seem unnatural that he should be very anxious to retain the supervisory and directing rights of the Ministry with which he was connected. There must be a test in this matter, and it cannot be the one that has been adumbrated by an hon. Member opposite when he gave the illustration of a company with a board of directors. He said that if the board had seven or eight departmental managers, who produced a scheme or schemes in connection with the company, the board would not leave that entirely in their hands, but would themselves take control in order to manipulate or operate these particular schemes.
That I can understand, but that is very far distant from the proposition that we are facing in this Bill. The company is a single entity and the board of directors constitute the authority which is responsible for the mangement of the company. It is not unnatural, therefore, that the source of action and of commercial operation comes within the purview of that particular entity, and that the board which represents it should also 1835 direct it, should implement and operate such schemes as are proposed.
That is not the case here. What is being asked for here is that one Ministry, which ordinarily is completely detached from the functions and machinery of other Ministries, should take complete control for this purpose of the machinery and operation of all other Ministries. That seems to me to be a proposition which has got to be very carefully looked at and considered. I should have thought that in an elaborate matter of that kind, Civil Defence was essentially a Departmental matter. The right hon. and gallant Member for North Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Sir C. Headlam) said that it was very important because if there was an emergency there would not be much time to think about all this and put Civil Defence into operation. I should have thought that that was a strong reason for having a multiple responsibility rather than a single responsibility, because in that way you would have machinery which could be mobilised and operated effectively and at once in the different Departments.
If that is a good reason, it seems to me that the departmental nature of this scheme is much to be preferred to the other. It is perfectly clear that for practical reasons there is bound to be divided responsibility. One thing that has to be weighed in the matter of Civil Defence is to see that each particular, responsible sphere is so organised that when it is needed it can be put into effective operation in its own sphere at once, and it will lose much less time in action and implementation if it is done by the various departments rather than one. For those reasons, the matter being so elaborate and the Home Secretary in his own Department not being able to connect up with the other Ministries for this purpose, the provision in the Bill is the one that should be adopted.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
We have had a very good discussion on this Amendment, and in practice there is not very much between us. Much of the quarrel is about words. Of course, in an Act of Parliament words are very important things and I am not, therefore, belittling them, but I think the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. S. Marshall) showed up the logic of the 1836 words proposed in the Amendment. He asked why there should be delegation and why Ministers other than one supreme Minister should have a finger in the pie. That was a figure of speech—I would not like it to be thought that sitting round a pie was anything like my recollection of what attending the "tank" was like during the last war.
I suggest to the Committee that I have made it quite clear who is to be the presiding Minister, and that answers the query on that subject by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson). In this matter the Home Secretary is the presiding Minister in the sense that the right hon. Gentleman suggested. He is responsible for seeing that the other Ministers are preparing their part of the Civil Defence framework. In answer to the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris), who asked me what would happen if one Minister did nothing, I would say that in such a situation quite clearly it would be the duty of the Home Secretary to see that he started moving and did the appropriate thing. The Minister cannot merely say, "Something must be done, and therefore I will do the first thing that comes into my head."
§ Mr. Ede
The provision for that is in the set-up I described. The arrangements for carrying out the work of the Defence Committee for the whole country are not to be found in any Bill. Certain Ministers of the Crown responsible for the Fighting Services are charged with certain functions, and in order that those functions may be properly brought together and the requisite amount of men and material found, the Defence Committee functions under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities will correct me if I am wrong, but that is not laid down in any Act of Parliament. It is part of the machinery of Government that has been devised to deal with defence. It is probably better that it is not in an Act of Parliament, because it is flexible enough to be adapted to the needs of the Constitution.
§ Sir J. Anderson
I agree that in our flexible Constitution it is very often 1837 found that the relationships are not too closely defined, but the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Minister of Defence, his functions and the functions of the Defence Committee. The Minister of Defence has a definite status under the Constitution and he has defined functions. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has so far addressed himself to the criticism which we made, that the Bill, in the definition Clauses, puts a number of Ministers on a footing of exact equality as designated Ministers. That seems to us to run counter to the conception—a fear shared by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee—which is to have one presiding Minister.
§ Mr. Ede
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, because he picked it up from my preliminary speech, that I made it clear that, as far as the machinery of Government goes, the Home Secretary will be the presiding Minister and that a general responsibility for the efficiency of the arrangements will fall on him. If he should have an inefficient colleague who does not get his part of the preparations appropriately ready and does not take steps to bring that colleague up to scratch, he will have to accept his responsibility for that colleague's failure. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will now acquit me of any failing of modesty in describing the exact position of the Home Secretary.
When we consider the other Ministers, we must remember that the right hon. Gentleman himself was responsible for the Act of 1939. The opening words of Section 50 of that Act are:It shall be, and shall be deemed always to have been, part of the functions of the Minister of Health (in this part of this Act referred to as "the Minister") to make arrangements—(a) to secure that, in the event of war, the facilities will be available for treatment in hospital. … (b) for the training in advance, in nursing. … (c) for the provision of a bacteriological service. …It will be seen that the words we have put into this Clause are in fact the words of the Act of 1939. The words which this Amendment proposes to move out of the Bill were in the Act of 1939. Surely it is right that, where we have functions that in peace time are exercised by a certain Minister, and in time of war functions either analogous to those or in extension of those will be 1838 required, that is the appropriate Ministry which should be charged with the task of preparing the details of the way in which those functions are then to be discharged. I gather that on the substance of the matter there is nothing between us. That is so obvious that it can be accepted.
The question now arises whether we shall say in the Bill that there is to be one Minister who is to be responsible and who is to assume all these functions to himself covering seven or eight Ministries, as the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) said. It might be even more. The Postmaster-General comes in for the maintenance of communications, the Minister of Fuel and Power comes in, in addition to the Ministers previously mentioned; and one Minister is to take to himself all these functions and then delegate them again to the people from whom he has assumed them. As a piece of theoretical machinery of Government that may be quite possible, but I suggest that as an administrative arrangement it is simply chaos. The logic of the whole matter was put forward by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam, that there ought to be this one Minister who, for Civil Defence and nothing else, takes over these functions and then runs them in isolation from the Departments which have previously been charged with them. I am sure that that logical working out of the matter will not be accepted by anyone. I do not say that the right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench suggested it, but it was the logic of the argument by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam.
In the Bill we have a practical and reasonable arrangement. If, to deal with the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys), officers who will be concerned in the regions and elsewhere came under the control of the single designated Minister and no one else, they would still have to refer back to the Departments with which they were normally connected.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
The right hon. Gentleman has not said what I suggested. What I suggested was that if the Ministers were absolutely independent of one another, their subordinates were also independent and what was needed, as I said in my Second Reading speech, was—although 1839 the right hon. Gentleman does not like the word—co-ordination from above, from one Minister. That is wanted in order to secure the proper working together of them all.
§ Mr. Ede
If that is anything at all, it is a criticism of the way in which the work was done in the last war and I am sure the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities would not agree that Ministers were allowed to function independently when it came to matters of Civil Defence. I saw several of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite from time to time sitting with myself under the chairmanship of the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities. It would be a travesty of the facts to suggest that each of our Departments was acting independently. Great efforts were made to ensure that the work should be brought into proper relationship with one Department and another. I suggest that the arrangement the Government have made is reasonable, that the general responsibility is firmly fixed on the Home Secretary, that he is responsible for seeing that each of the Departments prepares its plans and that each of the Departments in its own particular functions can best deal with the problems of getting the various services available for Civil Defence. If we had one super-Minister, I think the Committee would find he would still have to rely on the same Departments to do the work.
§ Mr. Ede
In Clause 1 we are dealing with the question at Ministerial level and we shall only confuse ourselves if at this stage we start talking about what will happen at the local authority level. Hon. Members may rest assured that if it becomes necessary for local authorities to communicate with one Minister or more, each particular service will have to be dealt with by an expert who has been trained in the Department concerned. I suggest that, on the substance of the matter there is nothing between the two sides of the Committee. When it comes to words, we have taken words which were in the Act of 1939, and I do not think that, in view of what has been said on the substance of the matter, it would in any way strengthen the Clause if this Amendment were accepted.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)
I had some experience of this problem for some years, and only in virtue of that do I venture to address the Committee this afternoon. I was Minister of Health and previously Secretary of State for Scotland when we were working on this problem. I remember very well the improvement in the organisation which took place as my right hon. Friend the Member for Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) was designated, as the Home Secretary said, as a super-Minister. I remember well this position of a constellation of Ministers——
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman says "designated as a super-Minister." Is not that untrue? I remember inaugurating a two days' Debate when I tried to introduce the position of a super-Minister, and every answer used by the Home Secretary tonight was used by Mr. Mabane, the Under-Secretary, and by other members of the Government to the effect that it should be left in the hands of a Minister designate who would have general control over the Departments. I only mention that as a matter of history.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am not unacquainted with the history of the matter either. My hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) was a colleague of mine at the time. I am sure he will remember the clarity which began to come into our affairs as the responsibility was given more and more to one Minister. The point which the Home Secretary is apparently arguing is that the difficulty of the Departments would be increased if we made the change which is here sought. The argument which I am advancing to the Committee is that the difficulty of the Ministers would be diminished. I rest that argument upon the fact that I was such a Minister, and my difficulties at the earlier stages were greater than my difficulties at the later stages—and more particularly of course, with the formation of the War Cabinet, when somebody has to represent a group of Ministers in that War Cabinet.
The Home Secretary himself cannot avoid the very language which we use in the Amendment when he seeks to explain the position to this Committee. 1841 I took down his words. He said that if the Minister was not performing his work satisfactorily it would be "the duty of the Home Secretary to see that the appropriate measures were taken." Those are his words. If this is so, why not make the matter explicit in the statute—because that is what will happen? The administrative position will be as I think has been described on all sides of the Committee in very much the same language. All we say is that the words of the statute should correspond with the administrative position, and the administrative position will be, as the Home Secretary said, that it will be the duty of the Home Secretary, or whoever is chosen as the Minister, to see that these various functions are being appropriately performed.
I do not think that a group of Ministers could have a power of delegation. I do not think that we could have a designated group of Ministers who would then proceed to these difficult administrative arrangements because, as has been said on this side of the Committee and I think on the other side as well, the real danger is not at the top where arrangements are pretty simple and easy. The danger arises as we work down the chain where people tend to stand apart from each other. We have had this situation in a number of cases. I remember the particular position of the ambulance groups, for instance, which fell between the Minister of Health and the Home Secretary. Until we had a clear picture of where the responsibility lay, the difficulty of making the two sets of people co-operate was much greater.
There is an enormous number of independent Ministers and independent offices. The Home Secretary's office is a great and historic office. The office of the Minister of Health is great and historic, and it is sometimes held by very stubborn and independent personalities—perhaps even in the present administration. If
§ Parliament says that it is the duty of the Home Secretary, he can appeal to the statute, and I think it is much better that he should be able to appeal to it than that these arrangements should have to be made as he has subsequently described.
I remember very well the words:
It shall be, and shall be deemed always to have been, part of the functions of the Minister of Health.
I remember why those words were inserted. They were put in because the Minister of Health was not previously the Minister with direct functional responsibilities. He was endowed with those by the statute. It was necessary to endow him with those functions by the statute; otherwise he would not have performed them.
§ I think it is a pity, however, that we should delay upon this matter. I had hoped that we might make rapid progress with this Bill. It is not a party matter of any kind. In the discussion which we have had, I think there has been support for various views on either side, and I hope that we shall make rapid progress with this Bill. I am afraid, however, that on this Amendment we shall need to register our opinion by dividing, and we shall reserve our power to divide against the definition Clause as well. We do so not in any party sense, and I hope we shall be able to proceed rapidly with the other stages of the Bill, but we do say that the word "duty," which the Home Secretary has used in his own definition this evening, should be the word which Parliament uses for defining its position when other people come to read the Measure later on.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 245; Noes, 135.1845
|Division No. 21.]||AYES||[5.7 p.m|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Battley, J. R||Brooks, T, J. (Rothwell)|
|Albu, A. H.||Bechervaise, A. E||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Benson, G.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Beswick, F.||Burden, T, W.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Binns, J||Burke, W. A.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Blackburn, A. R.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Blyton, W R.||Carmichael, James|
|Ayles, W. H.||Bottomley, A. G||Castle, Mrs. B A.|
|Bacon, Miss A||Bowden, Fig. Offr, H. W.||Chamberlain, R. A|
|Balfour, A||Braddock, Mrs. E M (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Chetwynd, G. R|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Bramall, E. A.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Barton, C||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Coldrick, W.|
|Collick, P.||Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T|
|Collindridge, F.||Jeger, G (Winchester)||Randall, H. E.|
|Collins, V. J.||Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Ranger, J.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jenkins, R, H.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Cook, T. F.||Johnston, Douglas||Richards, R.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Jones, Rt Hon A. C. (Shipley)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Cove, W. G||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Keenan, W||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Daggar, G.||Kenyon, C||Royle, C|
|Daines, P.||King, E. M.||Scollan, T.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Kinley, J||Scott-Elliott, W|
|Davies, R J. (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Davies, S. O (Merthyr)||Lang, G.||Shackleton, E. A A.|
|Deer, G.||Lavers, S||Sharp, Granville|
|Delargy, H. J||Lee, F (Hulme)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Miss J (Cannock)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Leslie, J. R.||Simmons, C J.|
|Dugdale, J. (W Bromwich)||Levy, B. W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Dumpleton, C. W||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Skinnard, F. W|
|Dye, S.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Ede, Rt Hon. J. C||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Logan, D. G||Snow, J. W|
|Edwards, W J (Whitechapel)||Longden, F.||Solley, L. J.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Lyne, A W.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McAdam, W||Stubbs, A. E|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||McEntee, V. La T||Summerskill, Dr Edith|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McGhee, H. G||Swingler, S.|
|Ewart, R.||Mack, J. D.||Sylvester, G O|
|Farthing, W. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Symonds, A. L|
|Fernyhough, E||McLeavy, F||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Field, Capt. W. J||MacPherson, M. (Stirling)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Follick, M.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, D E (Aberdare)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mann, Mrs. J||Tiffany, S|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Timmons, J|
|Gibbins, J||Marshall, F (Brightside)||Titterington, M F.|
|Gilzean, A||Mellish, R. J.||Tolley, L.|
|Glanville, J E. (Consett)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Grey, C. F.||Mitchison, G. R||Vernon, Maj W. F|
|Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)||Monslow, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, Rt Hon. J (Llanelly)||Morley, R.||Walker, G. H.|
|Griffiths, W D. (Moss Side)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Wallace, G D. (Chislehurst)|
|Guest, Dr L. Haden||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Wallace, H W (Walthamstow, E)|
|Gunter, R. J.||Mort, D. L.||Watson, W M|
|Haire, John E (Wycombe)||Moyle, A.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Hale, Leslie||Murray, J. D||West, D G|
|Hall, Rt Hon. Glenvil||Nally, W||Wheatley, Rt Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Naylor, T. E||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hannan, W (Maryhill)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|Hardy, E. A||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Wigg, George|
|Harrison, J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Wilkins, W. A|
|Hastings, Dr Somerville||Noel-Baker, Capt F E. (Brentford)||Williams, D J (Neath)|
|Haworth, J.||Oldfield, W. H.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Oliver, G H.||Williams, R. W (Wigan)|
|Hobson, C. R||Orbach, M.||Williams, W R. (Heston)|
|Holman, P||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wontworth)||Willis, E.|
|Holmes, H E. (Hemsworth)||Palmer, A. M. F||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Hoy, J.||Parker, J.||Wise, Major F J|
|Hubbard, T.||Parkin, B. T.||Woods, G. S|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Paton, Mrs F (Rushcliffe)||Wyatt, W.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paton, J (Norwich)||Yates, V. F|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Perrins, W.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Popplewell, E||Younger, Hon Kenneth|
|Hynd, H (Hackney, C)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Zilliacus, K|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Porter, G (Leeds)|
|Irvine, A J. (Liverpool)||Price, M. Philips||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Richard Adams|
|Agnew, Cmdr P. G||Bower, N.||Clarke, Col. R. S|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot Univ.)||Boyd-Carpenter, J A.||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G|
|Baldwin, A E.||Bracken, Rt Hon. Brendan||Conant, Maj R. J. E|
|Barlow Sir J||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J G||Cooper-Key, E. M|
|Baxter, A. B||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)|
|Beamish, Maj T. V. H||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O E|
|Beechman, N A.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Crowder, Capt. John E|
|Birch, Nigel||Butcher, H. W.||Cuthbert, W. N|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D C. (Wells)||Byers, Frank||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Boothby, R||Carson, E||Davies, Rt Hn. Clement (Montgomery)|
|Bowen, R||Challen, C||De la Bère, R.|
|Digby, S. W.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Drayson, G B.||Lipson. D. L.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Drewe, C.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Low, A. R. W.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Savory, Prof. D. L|
|Eccles, D. M.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col- Rt. Hon. Walter||McCallum, Maj. D.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Erroll, F. J.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Maclean, F H. R. (Lancaster)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey.)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Studholme, H G.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mellor, Sir J.||Teeling, William|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Head, Brig. A. H.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||Touche, G. C.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicholson, G.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Nutting, Anthony||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Hops, Lord J.||Odey, G. W.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Howard, Hon. A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Hurd, A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||White, J. B (Canterbury)|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Jennings, R.||Poole, O. B. S (Oswestry)||York, C.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Kendall, W. D.||Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K||Raikes, H. V.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Ramsay, Maj. S.||Brigadier Mackeson and|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out from the first word "for," to "any," in line 11.
I hope we shall not be long on this Amendment. I met my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) in the Lobby a few minutes ago, and when I asked him what he was doing he said, "I am going out to take steps for the purpose of effecting, or for facilitating the subsequent effecting, of having a cup of tea." I thought my right hon. Friend had taken leave of his senses until I realised that he had been reading the Bill. I suggest that the words… effecting, or for facilitating the subsequent effecting…are quite unnecessary. The designated Minister is to take such steps as appear to him from time to time to be necessary or expedient for Civil Defence purposes, and, in particular, such steps as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for the purposes set out in paragraphs (a) to (e). I cannot see that the purpose of the Bill is strengthened by the inclusion of the words I have just quoted, all the more so because in the succeeding Clause it seems as though the draftsman has been so bored with them that he could not even remember the words he had used. They are: 1846… for the effecting, or the facilitating of the subsequent effecting. …There are one or two other examples of bad draftsmanship in this Bill. The word "may," for instance, occurs in the main Clause and in many other places, but this is a matter which I think we can clean up without too much trouble, as I hope the Home Secretary will agree.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
No, I have given a great deal of thought to it, as indeed would anyone who takes the pride of writing the English language, as I have a modest habit of doing. I merely put it forward as an example of something which anyone would have been horrified to hear from a friend.
§ Mr. Ede
It was astonishing that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not recollect the words his right hon. Friend used until he again looked at the Bill, and was surprised to find them in it. I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amend- 1847 ment, because the words make an appreciable contribution to the effectiveness of the Clause. There are Civil Defence measures which it would not be practicable to put into operation now, or for some time to come, but in respect of which it would be most desirable to take such preliminary and preparatory steps as are possible, and as might be calculated to produce a situation which would make the attainment of the ultimate end easier and more expeditious. There is, for instance, the question of the provision of local mobile columns. It is highly desirable to take preliminary steps to provide for such columns, so that when the appropriate time comes the calling of them into being would have been facilitated and the general efficiency of the scheme improved.
The Clause is designed to permit the Minister to take, where appropriate, preliminary and preparatory steps for the ultimate achievement of the objects set out in the Clause. Those steps might possibly involve the spending of money now. It is for the purpose of making it clear that these preliminary steps, for which there may be no great show of ground at the present moment, are permissible, that it is necessary to retain these words in the Clause.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
I do not think it is necessary to have these pedantic words in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he wants to be able to take certain preliminary steps which might be necessary. I would not for the world try to prevent him, but I think that, like many of his colleagues, he is rather a person who needs to be agitated into doing things, especially when it comes to matters of defence. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that without these words it will be impossible for him to carry on with those small matters which might be necessary? I cannot think so. The wording of the Clause is already very full and so wide that it seems to me, although I am not a lawyer, that no practical necessity for the other words have been put forward. I notice that we are without a lawyer on the Front Bench opposite to explain the legal necessity of these words.
I suggest that the real reason the right hon. Gentleman likes to keep them is 1848 because they are rather pedantic and schoolmastery. They sound very nice but are ineffective in any way. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear hear."] I have support from the Socialist Benches. I beg the Patronage Secretary to notice that I have split his party at one go by my commonsense remarks. I see opposite me an hon. Gentleman who is what I may call a sea lawyer. They are not very respectable people. They are likely to get up and make long arguments, but I am sure the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden) will support me. He is not one of those who like schoolmastery long words and phrases just for the sake of putting them in. The words we are trying to eliminate are terrible. They are not good English and it is a shame that they should be inflicted upon Scottish Members as well. I hope that the Home Secretary will do something about it.
We are all trying to be peaceful and good-natured. It will be better if the Home Secretary withdraws his opposition to the Amendment and lets us have it. It is a good plan for the Government to propitiate the Opposition early in the discussion of a Bill. There is nothing like giving the Opposition an Amendment. That is why it would be an excellent idea to give my right hon. and gallant Friend the Amendment he moved, in the hope that then he will be willing to go on at full speed with the other Amendments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I expect, with the obviously growing support that the Conservative Party will have on this matter from the Benches opposite, that the Home Secretary will not let that support go too far. It will be better for him to give way at once.
§ Mr. Burden
I must support the Home Secretary with regard to the necessity of these words. While I agree that it might be profitable for us all to study diligently that well-known publication "Plain Words," by an eminent civil servant, I cannot help thinking that a Bill drafted by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) would be something to delight the Parliamentary draftsmen and other people. Sometimes I think of the hon. Gentleman in terms of the phrase which was used in another connection and upon another occasion, as being "intoxicated with the exuberance of his own streptomycin.
1849 As to the purpose of the few words which it is proposed by the Amendment to leave out, one understands that a tremendous amount of preliminary work must be done in the drafting of Bills which afterwards will have to be construed in courts of law and it is very necessary indeed that precise language should be used in them. As I read the Clause, having listened to the Home Secretary's explanation, I see exactly why the words are put in. They are to cover preliminary arrangements, and not the actual carrying out now of definite steps in regard to certain matters. I am only underlining what the Home Secretary himself has said. I hope that the Committee will reject the Amendment.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
If a lawyer had convinced me that these words were necessary, I should not have got up now, but I have not been able to find such a lawyer. Surely measures taken for a purpose or for facilitating the subsequent effecting of that purpose must be taken for that purpose itself. Therefore, the preliminary words must be redundant. I am only a humble soldier, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if I wrote an operation order with a remote resemblance to the words in this Clause, knowing that it would have to be read by the light of a small torch, I should not have been long in the position that I have held for a long time. Never have I seen wording such as this Clause 2. I had to read it five times to get any inkling of its meaning. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to raise a laugh next time he is on a platform, let him just read out these words and see what reaction he will get.
§ Mr. Ede
First, I would point out to the hon. and gallant Member that we are dealing with Clause 1 and not with Clause 2. Then I repeat that it is necessary for the reasons which I gave earlier to have these words in the Bill in order that necessary preparatory work can be done. I hope that the Committee will now agree to dispose of the Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
We do our best to get on. Certainly I do not intend to divide the Committee on this Amendment, but when the Home Secretary picks up a trivial point such as the fact that we are discussing Clause 1 and not Clause 2, I must point out that the same 1850 words appear in Clause 2. Trying to facilitate discussion, we mentioned the two together, but if the right hon. Gentleman wants to have the whole discussion over again upon Clause 2, he can have it. Does he think that this is a way to get on? Really, the right hon. Gentleman is being unnecessarily hedgehoggish this afternoon. Let him unroll himself and allow his prickles to subside. Do not let him direct all his spines to preserving himself diligently against any attempt to assist.
I noticed with some sorrow that the Home Secretary had repeatedly to refresh his memory as to the case for this by looking down at his brief and reading some of the most awful "officialese" that the House has ever heard. It was worthy of the hand of the draftsman who inserted those words. Every now and then came the tell-tale flick of the eyelids to which we are so accustomed in amateurs when they are trying to stand up to the test for a screen player. The Secretary of State is defending the indefensible here, if he wants it all over again on Clause 2——
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
No, I will not. I want to get ahead with the Bill and, believe me, the Home Secretary does not want to divide the Committee. It is all very well for Scottish Members who have nowhere else to go on a cold foggy night, but there are a lot of English Members here with homes to go to, whose wives will be glad to see them. We want to give them an opportunity of that, we whose homes are far away in the Northern Kingdom. Let us have pity on our brothers. We do not intend to divide, but the Home Secretary might be more forthcoming in a Bill which, admittedly, must be the product of all parties and must be operated by all parties when it gets on to the Statute Book.
§ Mr. C. Williams
Surely, after that plea the Home Secretary will give way. After all, he has been let down terribly by one of his back benchers just now in a speech which was shocking in its lack of knowledge of what ought to be in a Bill. The Home Secretary was obviously flagging in his interest in this Amendment to a point when I thought 1851 he would give way. Then he turned on my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) in rather a nasty way when my hon. and gallant Friend was only trying to help him. It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to like these exaggerated and unnecessary phrases in a Bill, but we like easier things, so that the local authorities can know what to do. It is a shocking thing for the Home Secretary to take the obstinate point of view that he has taken on a matter about which he knows as well as I do, that he is absolutely wrong.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. C. Williams
I have only taken part in the proceedings on this Clause during the last discussion. I protest against it now because, instead of making the position absolutely clear so that the country, and especially the local authorities, can know that there is one supreme authority, it means that there is nominally a supreme authority but there is not one clearly designated authority with power and control over the other Ministers. Subsection (2) says:The designated Minister may make arrangements whereby any of his functions under this section are, to such an extent as may be provided by the arrangements, exercised on his behalf by another Minister.A designated Minister may be any of several. He may be the right hon. Gentleman himself, or he may pass it on to someone else. In other words, there was in this Clause a chance of having a really clear-cut simple bit of legislation, but the Minister seems deliberately to have made this Clause, while not quite as bad as the London fog, very nearly as bad.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
In listening to the discussion that took place on the first Amendment, I was a little disturbed at the thought that we were looking at this purely in the light of the last war. There is no more difficult problem for any Minister who is responsible for Civil Defence to overcome than the fact that in the event of a war occurring, he must bring from peace-time tempo into war-time tempo, the whole of the Government departmental machine.
1852 The right hon. Gentleman has paid considerable attention to what has been said by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and it is obvious that we should pay attention to the voice of experience in these matters. However, we must also bear in mind the fact that we can take it as almost certain that in the event of another war, that war will not be at all the same as the last one. We have also to admit the unpleasant fact that war inevitably creates dictators, even in democracies. Obviously, therefore, we have a good reason for not wanting a war. Nevertheless, in the event of war occurring, whether we like it or not, it is most important that the methods with which we fight it from a Civil Defence point of view are the best methods, and those most likely to achieve the best results in the shortest time.
I believe there is a chance that by basing Subsection (2) mainly on past experience, we are running a grave risk of building up a Civil Defence machine which will not be quick enough or active enough to deal with the situation when it arises. I assure the right hon. Gentleman—and I hope he will believe me when I say it—that I have the greatest respect for him, and I do not doubt his sincerity, but I doubt his judgment on this matter. I believe that the best way of fighting a war is to have as leaders men who have studied what is likely to be the condition of that war rather than men who have only experience of the past. I am quite certain that whoever the designated Minister may be, he must be a young and active man, capable of taking rapid decisions. I am certain that if there were occasions in the last war, as some of my hon. and right hon. Friends have said, when there was a slow-motion effect due to the number of Ministeries concerned, that has to be overcome before another war starts.
In the machinery that we have, it is imperative that there are no obstacles such as were experienced in the last war. If there are, the effect of those obstacles will be far worse in the next war than in the last. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will try to see whether, on the Third Reading or in another place, he can suggest something else being inserted in the Bill which will overcome these grave dangers. I am quite certain that if we look at this in the light of 1853 the last war, we shall be making a mistake for which England will never forgive us.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I think that the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) has brought a little reality into the Debate. There has been far too much discussion of administrative machinery instead of the realities behind the Bill. The argument underlying the Clause is that we must be prepared for the defence of the civil population in the event of another war. In all the expositions from the Home Secretary, I have heard no satisfactory explanation of how the Minister designate will act should any one of our great cities require to be defended against attack by an atomic bomb. We are merely playing with the subject. We are assuming that the whole machinery of the last war will be operated in a war which will be fought out by modern explosives and atomic bombs.
I was recently discussing defence in atomic warfare with some atom scientists in America. I listened closely to the discussions between two of those scientists, who talked about atomic energy being used not in bombs, but in rockets. They were seriously talking about defending the cities of America against rockets driven by atomic energy. I said, "Surely things have not advanced like that in the realm of atomic discovery," but they replied, "Yes." One of these atom scientists, a well-known figure in American research, said they were now discussing seriously the possibilities of a rocket driven by atomic energy which would reach any part of the world in eight minutes. A few years ago, before the last war, we did not think in terms of rockets. The last few months of the war, however, brought us into the realm of reality as far as rockets were concerned. There is every reason to believe that high explosives may be used in an atomic weapon propelled by rocket.
I have listened very carefully to the Debate. What the Minister and his critics, and his supporters on this side, are talking about is a war fought in the days when bombs were simply dropped from aeroplanes. I fail to see in the Clause any sense of security at all. The only way we shall get security in the event of an atomic war, will be by our not having the materials to do ourselves 1854 the things against which we are asked to protect ourselves and other people. What I mean is that if we are attacked, if Civil Defence proposals are necessary at all, it will be because some foreign Power thinks it is its duty to drop high explosives or atomic bombs, or to use some other devilish instrument, because we are making atomic bombs here ourselves. I assert, therefore, that the only possible defence against atomic warfare is for this country to discard these devilish weapons and set a lead to the world. I believe that a real sense of security will come only when we have no arsenals which the enemy thinks it is necessary to destroy.
There is one explanation which I should like to have from the Home Secretary. Subsection (1, d) refers tothe provision, storage and maintenance of commodities and things required for civil defence.May we have a definition of what this means? A few days ago the Minister of Supply, when questioned in the House, explained the need for 250 monkeys for research purposes. Are these unfortunate monkeys being brought to this country under the proposals of this Bill? Are we to be asked to provide money for research of this kind? The Clause tells us of:…commodities and things required for civil defence.It was explained that these unfortunate animals, which have had no say at all in the affairs of men, are to be brought here for some kind of bacteriological or other experiments in accordance with the provisions of the Bill. That may seem a very funny thing to the Home Secretary, but I am not so sure that it is a laughing matter. If the people who are keen about Civil Defence want to carry out research into bacteriology and the effects of radio-activity on these animals, if the patriotic people who are so keen about fighting these wars are prepared to fight wars against Marxist-Leninism, let them volunteer themselves instead of bringing unfortunate monkeys from another part of the world. If ever there was a descent of man, surely this is it.
I see from the provisions of the Clause that we shall be organising and spending money on devilish researches of this kind. I suggest that the whole of the thought 1855 behind this Bill is in terms of the last war. It gets nowhere near reality as far as the next war is concerned. Once again we are asked to rehearse for something which we hope will never come off but which, when it does come off, will not be like the rehearsal.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Keenan
I did not intend to speak again on the Clause but after listening to what was said by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), I think a few observations are necessary. I am no warmonger, any more than is the hon. Member, but I remember that before the war started in 1938 quite a lot of irresponsible people said precisely the things which he has just said. If the community had not been persuaded to make the necessary arrangements and to organise the protection which we did at that time, he and I, and probably a few others, might not be here for the discussion today.
It is regrettable that in 1948 there should be any need to make preparations of this kind. Anybody in the House who tries to assert that this country is responsible for this position is not acting fairly to the country. The Government, and even hon. Members opposed to it, are not at all anxious for war. We have done all that is humanly possible to avoid it, but it does not seem at all likely that we shall succeed. I want to be quite frank. As I see the picture, the dangers are there. It would be criminal for any of us to neglect taking whatever precautions we can to protect our people. We had to do so before and it was a good job that we did. I remember quite well that in 1938 our people skitted at the services then being organised; practices were prepared in parks and other places and imaginary raids took place. It was a jolly good job for the community, however, that those things were done.
I was a member of the committee of a town in the North—Liverpool—that was bombed. The best docks in the country had to be protected, and we got all that we expected; but if the Civil Defence services had not been arranged for us before the war started and developed during the war period, we should have been in a much worse position than we were subsequently. It would be criminal folly to take notice of anybody who 1856 says we should not prepare. Even though we may spend very large sums of money—we may have to spend millions—before such hostilities take place, we may not be in a position to defend ourselves against atomic bombs or bacteriological warfare; but we certainly shall be in a better position if we are prepared to do something and we can develop, as we had to develop during the last war.
We did not know we should have to face rockets and the rest. We did not know the extent and nature of some of the bombs that were subsequently used; we did not know they were going to be so heavy; we had had no experience of that before. But if I may say so, it was a good job that in the country there were people public-spirited enough and sufficiently interested in the rest of the community to make preparations to avoid something for which they were not responsible.
Today, nobody can accuse anyone in the House of Commons, or the millions of people outside it, of being responsible for the international situation which we must all deplore. But it would be tragic if we did not face up to it. I hope that, whatever else is done, we shall use every effort and spend as much as we can in preparing to resist the attacks which we expect. To say that we are wasting our time because we do not know sufficiently what future warfare may be, that our arrangements for Civil Defence will not be as up-to-date as they might be and that we may not be anticipating what will come along to the extent which is necessary, is all very well, but that was the position before. It is criminal for anyone to try to discourage this effort to protect the people.
§ Mr. Howard
Two matters arise out of Subsection 1 (a and e) which are of considerable urgency. Perhaps the Home Secretary will make some statement on them, not today but on the Report stage. The matter which arises out of paragraph (a) is the organisation of Civil Defence forces and services. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that in the Second Reading Debate the memorandum sent out by his Department just over a year ago, was subjected to a great deal of criticism about the nature of the forces and who should control them. I appreciate that there will be no formation 1857 of those forces until the necessary training arrangements have been set out, and I strongly support that order of procedure, but it is very desirable that certain feelings, I will not say of alarm and of despondency, but of disquietude, among those who have interested themselves in keeping the Civil Defence idea alive during the last three difficult years, should be set at rest at as early a date as possible. They are unanimously of opinion that a somewhat different set-up from that envisaged in the memorandum should be decided upon. If the Home Secretary will look into that and make a statement on the Report stage, he will reap a great deal of benefit in his subsequent labours.
The second point arises out of paragraph (e), which is concerned with the provision, construction, maintenance or alteration of premises. It is quite clear that if the provision and alteration of premises is going on the whole time—the point has been made in the course of several Defence Debates—as soon as possible some general guidance should be issued whether any particular preparations or adaptations for Civil Defence purposes should be made in new buildings which are erected. As far as I know, no instructions of that sort have yet been issued. It may be that the research which is necessary before formulating decisions is not yet complete, but I am sure the Home Secretary will agree that this is a matter of real urgency if a great deal of money and labour is not to be wasted. I urge him to try to make a statement on these two matters on the Report stage.
§ Mr. Ede
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) that we are fully aware of the danger of trying to win the next war on the basis of the last. I suppose there was a time in the history of our country when we gave up using bows and arrows, but I am certain that for a long time Quartermasters-General contended that as they had been useful at the battles of Hastings and Crécy we should be very ill-advised not to have some in the armoury. The Joint Planning Staff are engaged in looking forward and trying, as far as they can to pierce the mists of the future, to ascertain what are the most advantageous ways in which Civil Defence can be developed and organised. All the Departments con- 1858 cerned with Civil Defence are, of course, engaged on the same task. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that his words only reinforce what we have been trying to do.
It is quite impossible to insert in the Bill any words which give effect to that underlying principle. If he can think of some between now and the Report stage, I would not decline to look at them, but I suggest that it would be a bit difficult. I do not want to claim more for the last Civil Defence organisation with which I was connected, both as a member of the emergency committee of a local authority and as a member of the Civil Defence Sub-Committee of the Government, than that from time to time, we looked forward and that some of the worst things were averted by the measures we were able to take. I have no doubt that at some time in the future when the secrets of all hearts are revealed and the archives are published, if we are here to read them many of us will be surprised at the way in which things were prepared for, although it was not apparent at the time that it was being done.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) was pretty effectively answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Keenan). We should be failing in our duty as a Government, and the House would be failing in its responsibility to the country as a whole, if we did not take stock and prepare as far as we can for any difficulties that may arise. My hon. Friend asks me what is meant by a few words in paragraph (d). Clearly it is our duty to get together medical stores to deal with casualties and bridging and highways materials in order to make certain that if we fear that a certain important bridge may be destroyed, appropriate material of the right lengths and strength shall be available to form a bridge which will carry the traffic of the destroyed bridge. It is also our duty to attempt to discover in what way we may meet other forms of attack not previously met but which we fear may be employed in a future war. I can assure the Committee that we shall endeavour to do the best we can in that matter.
With regard to the first of the points mentioned by the hon. Member for St. George's (Mr. Howard), we shall 1859 discuss that point with the local authorities in drafting the regulations. His second point is more clearly covered by Clause 6, and I am hopeful that we shall very soon be in a position in which we can meet persons who intend to erect new buildings and factories with a view to discussing with them what is the appropriate way in which provision should be made in those structures.
§ Mr. Howard
I hoped that the Home Secretary would extend his discussion on the question of the Civil Defence forces a little wider than the local authorities. It may be that there are points of view which are not entirely in conformity with those which he will get from the local authorities.
§ Mr. Ede
There are certain organisations, which the Home Office have encouraged, which have kept together a nucleus of past workers. Where we can, we shall endeavour to ascertain their views about some of these things, especially as it will be a volunteer force and we desire as far as we can to meet their views in the question of organisation.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and the hon. Member opposite brought a breath of fresh air into the discussion of this Clause. I do not agree with the Home Secretary and those who support him with regard to the point of view they put about paragraphs (a) to (e) as representing the proper kind of defence for which we ought to make provision and vote money in preparation for the forthcoming war. The first vital mistake is to create among the people of this country a psychology that the future war is to be in the near future, and that it is inevitable. That is the first purpose of a Bill like this.
The second point is that these five paragraphs would be a splendid preparation for dealing with raids in the last war. This is typical. The mentality of the War Office in particular is always to prepare for the next war by preparing for the last one. We had that experience in the Boer War. They fought the Boers in the way they had fought the Zulus, and were well whacked. Ulti- 1860 mately, they took two years and. twice as many men as were anticipated to win the Boer War. The 1914–18 war——
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Bowles)
The hon. Gentleman must confine himself much more closely to the Motion which is being discussed, and must not go back to the Boer War.
§ Mr. Scollan
I was only speaking about the experience of the Boer War as an illustration of the way we prepare for future defence or war—always out of date. Take, for example, paragraph (c), which provides forthe instruction of members of the public in civil defence and their equipment for the purpose of Civil Defence;On the last occasion on which we discussed the atomic bomb in this Chamber we were seriously told that the preventive for the effect of the atomic bomb was brown paper.
§ Sir J. Anderson
The hon. Member should not misrepresent what was said. I analysed as best I could the various phenomena connected with an atomic explosion. I discriminated between those aspects which are really very dangerous and those which are not. I said that the phenomenon of flash burn was one danger which could be guarded against by very simple means. That is confirmed by the very highest authority. Other aspects are quite different.
§ Mr. Scollan
The defence of brown paper against flash burn depends on how near or how far away one is, and the authorities are agreed on that. Consequently, the size and power of the atom bomb and the area it covers means that the brown paper cure is simply a fantasy and is of no use whatever. That is one of the things which is seriously brought forward obviously to allay the fear of the civil population with regard to atomic warfare. In my opinion that is betraying the confidence of the people by trying to make them think it is not as bad as it was painted after what happened at Hiroshima.
The next point is in regard to the Government's proposal to train the civil population—obviously on the same lines 1861 as in the last war. There is reference in paragraph (e) to'the provision, construction, maintenance or alteration of premises, structures. …It is admitted by the powers that be that there is no structure which can stand up to the atomic bomb. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. Hon. Members say "No." Will they tell us what kind of structure stood up at Hiroshima? Not one stood up there and there is not one in this country which would do so. The great difficulty is that because another Power played power politics, we immediately jumped to the conclusion, that we, a nation almost bankrupt as a result of the last war, must declare ourselves prepared to go to war again. In my opinion, the Government today who declare that they intend to get ready for the next war are simply asking for war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] They are. We know that today the peoples of the world do not want another war or anything to do with war.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
§ Mr. Scollan
The hon. Member says "anarchy," but is anyone saying that the dropping of atomic bombs on the civil population is not anarchy? This country of all countries cannot be defended in atomic war. Take this city of London, in which there is the greatest concentration of population in the whole world. Three or four atomic bombs would wipe it out. The same applies to Sheffield, Manchester, Glasgow. What would be then left of this island after that? [An HON. MEMBER: "Scotland."] Part of Scotland might be left. What is the use of spending this money in trying to fool people into believing that the Government can protect them? The Government cannot protect them and they ought to be told that is the case, but that if they are prepared to be taken into war, the Government are prepared to lead them into it.
I feel that I must intervene to say how much I deplore both the speeches made by Scottish Members from the Socialist benches this afternoon, that which has just been delivered by the hon.
1862 Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) and that delivered by my political neighbour the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). The hon. Member for West Renfrew in effect complained of the bad psychology of Clause 1, and suggested that the drafting of it was merely encouraging the general public to think that war was imminent. I would ask him to reflect on the words he used in this House in July this year against his own Front Bench, whom he is always embarrassing. when he can. I think it was when the Foreign Secretary was making an important pronouncement that the hon. Member got up and asked if any assurance could be given that we should reach the Adjournment without war being declared. Who was responsible for creating a bad psychology on that occasion? It was largely the hon. Gentleman himself.
The hon. Member spoke, as did the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, of the efforts being made in Clause 1 and in the whole Bill to protect the civil population, and said that in any event it was no use making preparation at all, that if there is to be another war we shall all go under, that we shall all suffer the same fate as Hiroshima. It does not seem to me that Hiroshima is a happy example. No adequate protection was prepared there against any bomb, so far as I am advised. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he should think again before he brings before this Committee or the House such a suggestion as that. The hon. Member objected to an interjection I made, when he said that we must leave things to take their course. I said that that was merely suggesting anarchy. I am of that opinion and I was confirmed in it when he said, in effect, "Anarchy if you like; away with all Governments; sack the lot." The hon. Gentleman appears to dissent, but if he will read HANSARD tomorrow he will see that I am not very far out in my representation of what he said. If we are to conduct our affairs on those lines, we might as well throw up the sponge altogether.
I do not suppose that we shall divide against this Clause. We object to certain things in it, as the hon. Gentleman has heard, but we are at one with the Government in saying that we must take all adequate precautions within our power to protect the civilian population. But 1863 the hon. Gentleman and his confederate say that we must make none. I hope that their words will be given——
§ Mr. Scollan rose—
We are in Committee and if the hon. Gentleman takes exception to my words it is perfectly open to him to rise and make another speech——
The hon. Member gets a very fair share of time in this House. I generally give way, but I shall not do so on this occasion. I hope that the two speeches will be given the widest publicity in Scotland where they will not be at all acceptable. I was in the constituency of the hon. Member the other day and I can assure him from first-hand knowledge, that feeling against such a speech as he has made will run very high indeed.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.