HC Deb 02 November 1949 vol 469 cc522-40

9.46 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Blenkinsop)

I beg to move, That the Draft Civil Defence (Burial) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved. It would probably be for the convenience of the House, Mr. Speaker, if we were to take at the same time the following motions relating to the evacuation and care of the homeless, the hospital service, ambulances, sewerage and water supplies, as they all refer to the Ministry of Health Civil Defence Regulations. With your approval, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I propose to say a few words about them together.

Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is it the intention of my hon. Friend to include the Motions relating to Scotland which are on the Order Paper?

Mr. Blenkinsop

They will be moved separately.

Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I notice that in the Civil Defence General Regulations, of which the regulations we are considering tonight are just particular regulations, the General Regulations apply only to England. Naturally, as a Welsh Member of Parliament I should like to know—although whatever the answer is I shall be equally unmoved—whether the draft regulations are intended to apply to Wales.

Mr. Speaker

I think the Minister must answer that. I am not in a position to give a reply.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I understand that they apply to England and Wales, but the regulations to which my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. S. O. Davies) was referring were those presented by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and no doubt that matter could be gone into when further regulations are presented by him. The regulations which I am presenting tonight represent a further stage in the development of the Government's Civil Defence plans. The Civil Defence Act, 1948, provided that regulations could be made by the designated Minister, and the Civil Defence (Designation of the Minister of Health) Order, 1949, of 28th July, listed the functions for which my right hon. Friend would be responsible.

The regulations which I am presenting today cover all but two of the functions specified in that order, and regulations in respect of those will be laid before the House shortly. The main work of the Civil Defence system, as has been said before, will fall on the local authorities, and all the regulations, with the exception of the Hospital Service Regulations, will impose duties on local authorities. The regulations themselves are both short and, I hope, clear, but the House may wish me to explain them in very general terms.

I will first mention the Hospital Service Regulations which are made under Section (6) of the 1948 Act. These regula0- tions repeal the appropriate provisions of the Defence Act, 1939, so as to remove the difficulty of having two sets of powers running together. Section (1) of the 1948 Act gives all the necessary power to my right hon. Friend to plan any development of hospital and allied services that might be necessary. Any additional nurses and auxiliaries which will be needed will be provided by the Hospital Service Reserve which is being recruited at the same time as the Civil Defence Reserve.

With regard to the other regulations, the principle has been adopted of imposing duties on the authorities that have comparable duties in peace time. The class of authority is specified in each case, with the exception of the regulations for the evacuation and care of the homeless. Here, authorities of the same class—as, for example, district councils—need to be divided into the three categories of evacuation, neutral or reception, and this can best be done by administrative circulars which will be issued later. There has been full discussion with all the local authorities, with Government Departments and others involved, and the proposals have general agreement.

I should make it clear that while these regulations have been drawn in such a way as to give a fairly general picture of the responsibility of the authorities, this does not mean that elaborate or expensive measures are to be taken. All that is intended is that the necessary preliminary planning work should be under taken, the officials nominated who will be responsible, certain premises earmarked, and the necessary staff trained. This will involve additional expenditure. So far as this Department is concerned, it will include the cost of recruiting and training and the equipment of members of the National Hospital Service Reserve, and of grant aid towards the expenses of local authorities in training members of the Civil Defence Corps allotted to the services covered by these regulations.

Every effort will naturally be made to keep this expenditure to a minimum. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said, we must keep a proper balance between our defence needs and the needs of our peacetime economy. If, as we devoutly hope, no call is made upon these services, much of the training done under the regulations will be of peacetime value, and especially is that true of the training of men and women in first aid, home nursing and ambulance duties.

9.53 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)

We propose to offer no objection to these regulations, we shall not divide against any of them, and we think that the procedure which the Minister has adopted of making a general statement at the beginning is the appropriate one. We understood that these regulations were to be brought forward on 15th November and that recruiting would start then. Can the Minister say briefly why they have been brought forward earlier and whether there is any significance in that?

Mr. Blenkinsop

There is no special significance. It is quite true that recruitment is likely to start on 15th November, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has suggested.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

I must echo the devout hope of the Minister that these services will not be necessary. They were liquidated in 1945 when many of the stores which we have to re-accumulate were dispersed. Few of us expected that in 1945 we should have to do this. However we must be prepared, and trust that the necessity to use them will not arise.

I was interested in the reference to the hospital services, for it does not seem so long ago since I was putting through the original Act under which these great services were brought together. We hoped then, as we hope now, that they would not be necessary. Still the country as a whole, and London in particular, owes an enormous debt to those who shouldered the load in advance and were ready to meet the terrific assault upon a civilian city, the withstanding of which was one of the great glories of London and, indeed, will remain for a long time one of the greatest glories of our people.

Mr. Speaker

I think I can now give an explanation which may help hon. Members. The regulations marked "England" are those which concern the Home Office. We are dealing now only with those of the Ministry of Health, covering England and Wales, under the Act which was passed last July. The title "England," therefore, does not appear on these orders, but does appear on the orders to be moved subsequently by the Home Office.

9.55 p.m.

Mr. S. O. Davies

I am obliged, Mr. Speaker, for your explanation. I do not understand, however, why the Home Secretary is not interested in Wales, but I suspect that he will be interested in time in that country.

I rise now for a totally different reason. I ask the Government, with all seriousness and sincerity, whether these or any other regulations which are to be considered tonight will or can be of any earthly use should another war take place in this atomic age. Should that war ever happen, these regulations would be of no use at all to us.

The regulations must be regarded got in the light of war strategy and the kind of armaments which existed immediately before 1939, but in the light of the obvious kind of armaments, power and other things which will be used should we ever be so unfortunate as to find ourselves involved in another war. I say with all respect that when I first looked at the list of regulations on the Order Paper, I felt something very close to an unpleasant shudder when I saw that the first of them should be concerned with burials. In the event of our being plunged into another war, I am afraid that these particular regulations will be of great significance.

I am of opinion that the regulations would be of no earthly use and that they render a disservice by the pretence that they can be of use in the next war. To those who are submitting the regulations, I address this question: How can this country, with its high density of population, survive an atomic war, which inevitably will be a war of mass slaughter and torture of the innocent as well as of the guilty? We are informed today that the primitive atom bomb which was used on Hiroshima is now pathetically outdated and that far more powerful bombs, with more highly advanced means of utilising their power, are now in the hands of most of the powerful nations of the world.

Mr. Speaker

I really must interrupt the hon. Member. These regulations are made under an Act of Parliament. Whether or not they relate to the situation as a whole or to the effects of atom bombs, I do not think that that comes within the scope of the Debate. That question was settled when we had the Second Reading, and the Civil Defence Act has now been passed. These regulations are made in consequence of the Act, and therefore one cannot discuss the subject of whether in an atomic war they will be effective or not.

Mr. Davies

With all respect, Mr. Speaker, when we debated the Civil Defence Act we had no idea what the nature of the future Civil Defence Regulations would be. I object to these regulations because they are obviously worse than useless. As a Member of Parliament I cannot be a party to their passing through the House on the pretence that they will be of any earthly use should we be involved in the next war. I am objecting to these regulations because of their uselessness and utter senselessness, in the light of experience of this or any other nation, should it be involved in atomic war. This is not the kind of Civil Defence I should expect this Government to place before this House and I think I am entitled to tell the House what kind of Civil Defence would appeal to me.

With all respect, I think I am entitled to make my opinion known in this House that the only defence with which we can provide our people is immediately to clear off British soil all foreign armed forces and to announce to the world that in no circumstances will this country either make use of atomic bombs or allow this country to be used as a base of operations for hostilities towards any other nation. I put that as an alternative to these regulations, and I am absolutely confident that my alternative would be a far better thing for the people of this country than the farcical draft regulations which we are called upon to consider this evening.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Burial) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Evacuation and Care of the Homeless) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Hospital Service) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Ambulance) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Sewerage) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th October, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Water Supplies) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved."—[Mr. Blenkinsop.]

10.2 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)

I beg to move, That the Draft Civil Defence (Burial) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th October, be approved. It would be for the convenience of the House if I were to discuss the seven Scottish draft civil defence regulations together as was done with the Ministry of Health regulations. These draft regulations correspond to five of the regulations which have just been approved by the House. There are, however, two which are different—the Draft Civil Defence (Fire Services) (Scotland) Regulations and the Draft Civil Defence (Public Protection) (Scotland) Regulations, the English counterparts of which have not yet been before the House.

As regards the Fire Service Regulations, hon. Members will recall that in the terms of the Fire Services Act, 1947, Scotland was divided into 11 areas for fire fighting purposes. Glasgow was under the administration of Glasgow Town Council and the other 10 areas, each containing, a number of local government areas, were administered by a joint committee of representatives of the combined authorities. The first section of these regulations provides that Civil Defence responsibilities of fire services will be administered by the same authorities as administer fire services now but not by individual county councils and town councils as Civil Defence authorities. I do not know that I need go further into the regulations, but if questions are asked of me I will do my best to answer them.

It will be seen that the Public Protection Regulations set out in the Schedule the Civil Defence functions to be undertaken by the classes of local authorities there set out. In assigning these functions, the general principle has been followed that local authorities shall have the duties which correspond with their normal peacetime functions. Provision is also made in Regulation 2 that where personnel are transferred permanently from the Civil Defence Corps to the authorities specified in the Schedule the responsibility for the training of such personnel and the financial responsibility for them passes to those authorities. Hon. Members know that the setting up of these divisions of Civil Defence Corps is provided for in the Civil Defence Corps (Scotland) Regulations approved last July. They will be organised by counties and joint counties and large burghs.

The regulation dealing with transfers is needed mainly for the manning of the warden's service by the transfer of members of the corps from the town and county councils which have recruited them to the police authorities which are responsible for the warden's service. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health has just said, these Regulations do not deal with all the functions to be assigned in the organisation of Civil Defence. Further draft regulations will be submitted when the substance has been worked out and agreed with the local authority associations.

I should like to take the opportunity of expressing the thanks of my right hon. Friend to the Civil Defence Consultative Committee which the three local authority associations in Scotland were good enough to set up, and to the various panels of local officials, without whose help the formulation of these plans would have proved a much more difficult task for the Departments concerned. These regulations will be welcomed by the local authorities inasmuch as they clear the way for them to proceed with the detailed preparation of plans for the carrying out of the various functions assigned to them, and the House will have little difficulty in approving them.

10.7 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)

We do not, of course, offer any objection to the passage of these regula- tions. The home service as well as the health aspect regulations are being taken in the case of Scotland because we considered that it was unnecessary, since the same Minister was concerned, that there should be two nights on which those should be brought before the House. There are one or two technical differences between the English and Scottish regulations. For example, there is no need to make provision for a designated Minister in the case of Scotland as the Secretary of State is the responsible Minister. That is so in the case of the ambulance service, since the Secretary of State is the Minister responsible for ambulance services in Scotland. The regulations follow in general the same pattern for the whole country, and as I said, we do not offer any objection.

10.8 p.m.

Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)

It may be that provision was made in the Act that was passed by this House, but hon. Members who have any local government experience know exactly what happened on the last occasion. Local authorities which got ahead with the job and incurred considerable expenditure found themselves the losers in the outcome. When the ascertainment was made and the grants were forthcoming, no credit was given for considerable expenditure which local authorities had incurred in getting on with the job. I have looked through all the regulations and I do not see any reference to who is to pay for the progressive development of this service. The local authority which is a designated authority has to provide stores and vehicles, it has to anticipate and be prepared. Will this be a charge on the Exchequer, using the local authority as the agent of the Government, or is this a charge which must be borne by the local authority? If so, that will press hard upon those authorities which have a low rateable value. It would be as well to have that point cleared up before we go any further.

10.10 p.m.

Mr. Carmichael

I wish to ask the Joint Under-Secretary a number of questions because, like my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. S. O. Davies), I have great doubts about the scheme as outlined in the regulations. I realise that we cannot tonight discuss in any detail the likelihood of war or how devastating war will be, as we should be going out-with the scope of the regulations. I suggest, however, that it would be far better for some time to be taken seriously to examine the scheme as laid down by the committee which made certain recommendations to the Secretary of State. It seems strange, in the first place, that we have regulations for England and regulations for Scotland. I do not think it completely answers the question to say that it is necessary because we must make certain appointments of responsible Ministers in England. If a war does come, I am certain that whatever scheme of organisation there is, we must have the greatest possible unity between the authorities of England and Scotland.

When I look at the regulations—I deal with only two tonight, the question of burial and the question of the homeless in the event of war—I wish to ask my hon. Friend this question. Certain instructions are laid down to the local authorities and one is that they must: determine what buildings and land should be used for the purpose of such accommodation and maintenance as aforesaid, to determine what adaptations of any such buildings will be required in that event and to take steps to ensure that any such buildings and land as are not under the control of the local authority will be placed at their disposal. One would imagine we were likely to engage in a war with bows and arrows and that it would be quite possible to segregate the community, and property associated with the community, before a war; that experts—I am sure they will be called experts—who will be appointed to prepare a scheme will be able to tell us exactly the property to be set aside for people who might be homeless; that they will be able also to tell the kind of materials, beds, bedding and furniture required in the event of such protection. Surely that is not facing the situation in a realistic way.

How can any expert, knowing the nature of modern warfare, sit back and map out the country in such a way as to indicate the land and property which will be divorced from the arena of battle? I could have understood the idea if it was possible at an international conference to discuss the abolition of atomic warfare or to argue that certain parts of the country should be removed entirely from warfare so that it would be possible, because of that to divorce the civilian popu- lation, or at least the women and children, from the area of warfare and put them in some parts of Scotland where it would be practicable to have buildings and property, and where they would be free from all the dangers of war.

But when total war comes—it is terrible even to discuss it—there will be no corner of the country immune from the possibility of devastation and slaughter. With all due regard for and recognition of the heroic conduct of the people of London, everybody knows that the recent great world war was brought very rapidly to an end because of the application of an atomic bomb on two towns. We are alive to the fact that if war broke out tomorrow, the bombs used would be more dastardly in their power of destruction than those used on the previous occasion.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must keep to the regulations. We cannot discuss total war. Total war was discussed when the Act was passed. These regulations were made on the authority of the Act and we cannot go back on that Act. That is the decision of the House of Commons.

Mr. Carmichael

I do not want to get out of line with your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. All I wish to suggest is that, although the Act was passed, we have to ask ourselves whether the regulations meet the situation. My contention is that it is no use examining or passing these regulations if we do not take account of the possible destruction of towns in the event of war.

If I examine the position of the City of Glasgow with these regulations in mind, I must ask myself whether they are capable of having a detailed organisation to set in motion to prevent the people from being destroyed and to find them accommodation, because it is suggested that the people of Glasgow should set aside certain buildings and that they should find accommodation, bedding and clothing of one kind and another in order to look after the homeless. When I examine this problem, I must ask myself what will be the nature of the attack and how we can keep the people away from danger. If I ask myself those questions, it is natural that I should think of some towns which have already been visited with this type of destruction. I should like to ask the Joint Under-Secretary whether he is satisfied that these regula- tions will afford sufficient protection. I think that we are passing them too lightly.

The same situation exists when we consider the regulation dealing with burials. The Government propose to appoint an officer and to commandeer certain property to be set aside to be used as mortuaries where people will be able to identify their relatives. I think that this is a cold-blooded approach to the whole problem of Civil Defence. Whether we like it or not—and if I am digressing I will withdraw my statement—I have the feeling that this is also creating in the minds of the people the idea that war is inevitable and that we must prepare some way of defending ourselves against it.

Mr. Speaker

This appears to be a Second Reading speech on an Act which we have already passed. We must stick to what is in the regulations, and we should not discuss matters which are outside the regulations.

Mr. Carmichael

I am sorry. I have been trying to be guided by past experience. I heard the Debate yesterday on the regulations about the clothing industry and the speeches covered almost every branch of clothing from weaving to the finished article. I thought that as long as I asked the Minister whether he was satisfied with these regulations, I should be in Order. We are entitled to ask the Government why they have framed the regulations in this way. Where is the guide? Where is the evidence that this is the right way in which to frame them? Where is the evidence that we have certain property and material which can be set aside? Where is the expert with the knowledge to tackle problems of this kind in the event of an attack upon a town?

Obviously, no one can attempt to divide the House on the idea that one is against Civil Defence, no matter how crude and how poor it may be. I admit that in the event of attack one must find some means of protecting the people, but I say that these regulations have been prepared far too hurriedly and that they are quite inadequate. I regret that the Government, who have done so much good and progressive work, should spend time with regulations of this kind, which are completely inadequate.

10.18 p.m.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)

I should like to say a few words in view of the speech of the hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Mr. Carmichael). We must ask ourselves whether we know the problem which we must face, in which case the answer is that at this stage we do not. Secondly, we must ask whether we should take some steps to provide something which will form a basis or a framework which can be developed as we see how the situation develops. Therefore, I think the Government are wise to introduce these regulations—it is very rarely that I say that the Government are wise but I say it sincerely tonight—literally as a framework, because we cannot tell what the problem will be until it arises, and as it develops we can change our regulations accordingly.

It would be most unwise to discard these regulations merely because they do not completely fill the picture, because we do not really know what the picture will be. Therefore, "so far so good" is what we should say about them, and we should pass them.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) that, if we are going to have what is technically called an emergency, certain preparations should be made for burying the dead, but, without transgressing the Rules of Order or going into the general question very much, I want to put some rather important questions to the Government.

In the first place, I want to know why this matter has been dismissed so airily, as if elaborate precautions are not really necessary. Surely, the justification for the regulations is that a very great emergency is going to be upon us, and, if it is to be faced at all, surely, the preparations should be adequate to that emergency? That emergency is going to be a really colossal emergency, quite different from the emergencies of the past, and I submit that these regulations are not in any way adequate for the emergency that is likely to arise.

There is far too big a tendency in these regulations to "pass the buck" to the local authorities. In the one referring to the burial of the dead, we find that the local authorities are called upon to make plans ready for putting into force in the event of hostile action, but the local authorities will want to know what kind of plans they are expected to make and exactly what is the nature and the magnitude of the emergency which is likely to arise.

In the last war, as a journalist, I visited most of the places in Scotland where hostile action took place, and at Greenock, Clydebank and in Glasgow I witnessed the aftermath of enemy action. I ask myself what kind of an aftermath there is likely to be this time, and what evidence have we that these regulations are in any way sufficient. Have the Government given sufficient thought to this matter in order to inform the House of the reasons why these regulations should be adopted?

I submit that it is very relevant to ask what expenses are likely to be incurred. We are now told that the Department of Health for Scotland is going to reduce its expenditure by £6 million a year. Exactly how much expenditure is contemplated in these regulations? If we are to have any precautions at all, they are going to cost a substantial sum of money, and the Government ought not to delude either the House of Commons or the local authorities into thinking that they are not embarking upon huge expenditure involving both money and labour and at a time when they are calling for drastic economies in other directions.

I submit that the local authorities are going to be in a great dilemma. If I were a member of a local authority, like the county council of my own constituency or that of the city of Glasgow, I would like to know what kind of burial facilities we are expected to organise and plan for. Are we to be asked to plan for 500 or 500,000 casualties? I have here a Government report in which the nature of the problem with which the local authorities will be faced is admitted. In the Library of the House, there is a report of a Government Committee sent to examine what happened in the towns on which atomic bombs were dropped. While I will not discuss the nature of atomic warfare, it is very relevant to assume that in the next war atomic bombs will be dropped. If we are going to act on this assumption, then these regulations are not worth the paper on which they are printed.

With what kind of problem are the local authorities of, say, Glasgow going to be faced? Glasgow is a big city composed of a million people, and when the atom bomb was dropped on a town in another part of the world, we are told that the technical team sent by the Government to assess the damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki concluded that one Mark I or Mark II atom bomb dropped on a British city—presumably Glasgow—would kill 50,000 people. It would demolish beyond repair 30,000 houses; another 35,000 would need extensive repair, and up to 100,000 houses would need minor repairs to make them habitable. In all, 400,000 would be homeless.

It is not a problem which can be lightly brushed aside. This is a gigantic problem of the social breakdown of a great city. We are not facing it; we are trifling with it. We are not even told what are going to be the expenses for rehearsing the preparations to be made. I read in "Reynolds" newspaper the other day—a newspaper which represents the point of view of the Government—that one atom bomb dropped on the City of London with the wind blowing in the right direction would put the city out of action. I understand that if a similar bomb were dropped on the City of Glasgow, all the precious scheme of organising, in the same way as we organised for the last war, would be useless. We are dealing with an imponderable problem, the dimensions of which we simply do not understand, and we are being asked in a few minutes to pass regulations dealing with this tremendous and most momentous problem.

We do know, according to this report by a Government commission, that the City of Glasgow would have 400,000 homeless. We would have to bury at least 50,000 dead. I know of no municipal plans which could cope with such a situation. I think that we are entitled to have this matter dealt with in the manner it deserves, instead of trifling with it. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) has dealt with the question outlined in the other defence regulation, that which deals with the care of the homeless. Presumably my own local authority in the county of Ayrshire is going to be asked to produce plans to find homes for half a million people. I do not know how it can be done. I have sat on that local authority for 20 years and am familiar with most of the local problems. I certainly do not know how plans can be drawn up by the County Council of Ayrshire, or any other county council in Scotland for the purpose of dealing with an emergency of such a nature.

I know that we cannot oppose these regulations, but we ought at least to have some statement from the Government as to what the cost involved is going to be. Are we going to be faced with a steadily mounting expenditure at a time when we are told that we must cut capital expenditure? Judging by a very brief examination of this problem, the capital expenditure alone is going to be colossal. I, for one, regard this as an insoluble problem, and would be very glad indeed to have some enlightenment from the Government commensurate with the enormous attention which this problem deserves to be given.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Fraser

Let me say a word about expenditure. Of course, the Act provided that expenditure incurred on the provision of these services by the Civil Defence authorities would be met in certain circumstances at the rate of 100 per cent. by the Government, and in other circumstances at the rate of 75 per cent. by the Government. I cannot tell the House just now which services will be reimbursed at 75 per cent. and which will be reimbursed at 100 per cent. That is another matter which is to be dealt with in regulations, and discussions are proceeding with the local authorities just now towards that end. But I must say that I regret the speeches made by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). The hon. Member for Bridgeton said that the regulations would cause a scare. I should have thought that the hon. Member's speech, and the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, might cause a scare. The bringing forward of these regulations, made under the Civil Defence Act, enabling local authorities to make their plans, or to be ready to make their plans, on receiving instructions from the Secretary of State could not by any stretch of the imagination, cause a scare.

Mr. Carmichael

May I say that I did not use the word "scare." But does the hon. Member think that if these regulations went through quietly that is the way to deal with them—regulations involving the whole of the civil population?

Mr. Fraser

I am not appealing for them to go through without discussion, or even for them to go through quietly. But this drawing of a horrible picture of what is going to happen in Scotland in future is not necessarily a good thing, and in present circumstances it is, I think, a bad thing. We all hope it will not be necessary to give effect to the plans which the Civil Defence authorities will be enabled by these regulations to make. We all hope and trust that there will be no emergency; that there will be no war. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire imagined an atom bomb dropping upon Glasgow and asked who was going to deal with the corpses and who was going to look after the people rendered homeless; what provision was there, he asked, in these regulations for dealing with these matters. I would say that we must deal with a war situation when a war situation comes, if it does. The only conclusion to which I can come, as a result of his remarks, is that if war should come we ought to throw up our hands in holy horror and say that we were going to do nothing to save ourselves.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

I would be out of Order if I attempted to outline my proposals. But I am asking what are the plans for dealing with a situation when it has actually arisen through the dropping of bombs on two great cities.

Mr. Fraser

These regulations provide for functions being carried out by the Civil Defence authorities, and each regulation says that the Civil Defence authorities will carry out the instructions given by the Secretary of State from time to time. The Secretary of State cannot say just now what provisions will be made in Glasgow. Edinburgh or Aberdeen, if by some chance a most dreadful atomic missile fell on any of these cities. It is much too early in the day, and let us hope that he will never have to give any such instructions to the Civil Defence services. I do not think any real criticism has in fact been made of the regulations, and the criticisms which have been made this evening have been in regard to the Government bringing forward any kind of Civil Defence provisions. That is a criticism which might well have been made when the Civil Defence Bill was under consideration last year, but it has little relevance to the regulations which are now before the House.

10.35 p.m.

Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)

May I say that I think the Government are doing a wise thing in bringing forward these regulations. These will lay the foundation of the whole Civil Defence of Scotland. The creation of buildings or areas to which to bring casualties is a very natural and an ordinary proposition which the House should want to discuss. The spectre of war, with the horrible pictures which it conjures up, is something we like to forget; but everybody in this House will agree that, while making regulations and, we hope, effective preparations, we hope to God they will never have to be put into operation. We all hope that.

At the same time, it would be criminal never to make arrangements for the preservation of life or for dealing with the horrible effects of war. Although I opposed the last war, I must admit that in going around this city I was often very sorry indeed that greater precautions had not been made for the civil population which suffered so much in that war when it did come. We all trust that war will never come in this generation; it is bound to be horrible and deadly; but if the Government failed to make effective preparation—which might not be fully effective and might be very costly—it would earn the wrath of the people who were forced unprepared into the circumstances of horrible war.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Burial) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th October, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Evacuation and Care of the Homeless) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Hospital Service) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Sewerage) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Water Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Fire Services) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved.

Resolved: That the Draft Civil Defence (Public Protection) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th July, be approved."—[Mr. T. Fraser.]