HC Deb 04 November 1954 vol 532 cc682-9
Mr. Wigg

I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, to leave out "Civil Defence (Armed Forces)," and to insert: "Armed Forces (Civil Defence)."

The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the Armed Forces. It declares that the Armed Forces shall be required during part-time training to do Civil Defence work. I should have thought that it was reasonable and logical to accept our Amendment. It is not merely a matter of putting words on the Order Paper. It has been our endeavour on Second Reading and again today to do all we can to help the Government and to make the Minister aware that he has the backing of the whole Committee in his attempt to build up this service—I want to get away from the words "Civil Defence." We want a new form of words. The Bill is a move in the right direction. The Committee is behind the Minister, who has the support of all parties.

Not only has the Minister a job to do in standing up to his colleagues and educating them, but also in educating public opinion. He will not be able to get very far unless he can take public opinion with him. I should have thought, therefore that it would have been quite useful for it to go forth that Parliament has decided that the Armed Forces are to be trained and brought into this service, though not as far as we would have wished.

The Bill, however, is a first step in bringing the Armed Forces into association with the civilian authorities to prepare, when resources are allocated, a reasonably adequate system of defence against air attack. I hope very much that if only as a tribute to the non-party spirit which has governed our proceedings the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to accept the Amendment without further discussion.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The Bill is essentially a Civil Defence Measure.

Mr. Wigg


Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Its primary purpose is not so much to lay an additional Civil Defence obligation on the Armed Forces as to make certain specific members of those forces exclusively available for mobile column duties in the first phase of a war. I admit that there is a difference of opinion on the emphasis that should be given there. I recognise that hon. Members opposite have argued for an emphasis the other way, but I cannot reconcile that with our proceedings. We have discussed the Bill all along—and even the Opposition have discussed it—on the basis that Civil Defence is our primary consideration.

Mr. Ede

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by using the word "even" in saying that "even the Opposition" have done this?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I did not mean to disparage the Opposition. The Opposition have even done this. I think that the Committee on the whole has recognised that Civil Defence is what we have primarily in mind, and for that reason I am afraid that I must ask the Committee to stick to the title as suggested in the Bill.

Mr. H. Hynd

I am very disappointed with that reply. I should have thought that the Amendment proposed a very simple and logical alteration which could well have been accepted. The Joint Under-Secretary says that the Bill is specifically a Civil Defence Bill. The Bill makes no alteration at all to the case of those who are now doing Civil Defence work. The Bill is designed to apply not to the Civil Defence people but to the Armed Forces.

They are the people, and the only people, who are affected. Therefore, it seems to me that for all practical purposes, people who in future will want to look at this Bill when it becomes an Act will say, "What was the alteration that was made to conditions of service in the Armed Forces in 1954?" They will turn to the letter "A" to look up Armed Forces and eventually will find the Act listed under Civil Defence. It would be far better, even now, if the Government put the matter in proper order and called the Bill the "Armed Forces (Civil Defence)" Bill.

Mr. Wigg

Could the Joint Under-Secretary amplify his reply? It has been very sketchy indeed. It is not good enough to come here with a carefully prepared brief and not deal with what is said in the debate. The Bill places a legal liability on Armed Forces of the Crown. That is all. The Home Secretary was most careful and went out of his way to repeat over and over again to the House that the Bill was a beginning. The re-deployment of our Forces, in view of changing conditions, had been the subject of most careful examination and the Bill was hardly a first step. What this Bill does, as was said in another place, is to make clear as a legal liability the obligation which already exists on the Armed Forces. The operative words are "Armed Forces." We have not yet got to Civil Defence, because the Minister told us that that is under examination.

8.0 p.m.

Why cannot the hon. Gentleman be generous? We have been generous to him and have done our best to improve the Bill. We have been patient with him and helped him along the right road. We have promised all-party support—and that is worth something. All we ask him is to go a little further on the road on which he has haltingly and hesitatingly stumbled and not turn this down just because his brief says so. He should throw his brief in the basket and say: after all, what hon. Members on this side of the Committee are asking for is just commonsense. He would then show that he is capable of appreciating a simple argument put in a very simple way.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The hon. Member is very tempting, but he is tempting me to tell a lie. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am afraid I must refuse. However much it would please the hon. Member, I am sorry that I cannot call a spade a bulldozer; and in this case the Bill is the "Civil Defence (Armed Forces) Bill." To call it what he proposes would be a misnomer, and although I quite appreciate the point of view of the Opposition here, I ask them to accept that this is the correct title. They may not feel that the Government have produced the right Bill in the circumstances, but that is another question altogether. This is the correct name, and we should stick to the Bill as drafted.

Mr. Ede

I am bound to say that I am very disappointed at the second reply of the hon. Gentleman to the forthcoming speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). As the Title now stands the ordinary person reading it would think that this is the "Civil Defence of the Armed Forces Bill." It is nothing of the sort. The persons involved in this Bill are not civilians but members of the Armed Forces. Surely in this matter the persons involved should provide the Title to the Bill.

There is more than the mere order of words involved. As we have insisted throughout, the great advance made in this Bill—although the Government themselves at one stage tried to belittle it —is the fact that the Armed Forces are being brought into Civil Defence as an essential part. I am not blaming the Home Secretary as this is not his Bill; he was not in that office when it was thought of. He is being left to defend a Bill which it was expected the great exponent of the defence of lost causes would be here to defend.

I do suggest to members of the Government that in this matter they still have a very hard battle to fight with people whom we shall not see here, but the reverberations of those discussions will be heard here and throughout the country. I am quite sure they know that if anything worth while is to be done in getting greater strength for Civil Defence it will have to be by making inroads into manpower which at present is allocated solely to the three Service Departments.

We have only a limited number of people in this country. One of our problems is that while we are still the greatest nation on earth we are very small numerically and have to carry tremendous burdens. The limited resources we have must be redeployed. We cannot expect to take many more men out of industry during an emergency to look after defence, whether it is Civil Defence or that which is provided by the three Services. The whole problem will be how this numerically small people can carry the great burden that our tradition and our present moral prestige in the world will compel us to carry, and manage to survive.

In support of this Amendment, I want to say to what I have said on every day on which this Bill has been before us. Our capacity to withstand, inside our own borders, heavy attack has never been tested. We have to go back a very long way to find a time when the ordinary population of this country was subjected to what might be a critical attack by a foreign enemy. We had some of it during the last war. It is on that——

The Chairmanrose——

Mr. Ede

I am just coming to the point, Sir Charles—that our survival and the survival of the cause for which we stand will depend.

We shall have to get into Civil Defence men who in previous wars—certainly in the last two wars—would have been regarded as destined for one or other of the Armed Forces. Because of that—and this is the first time it has been said that a Service man can be used for this purpose—I think the words ought to be reversed in the way suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg).

Mr. Wigg

Are we not to have a reply from the Minister?

Major Lloyd-George

There is not much to be said upon this Amendment. The Title of the Bill really springs from the Civil Defence Act, 1948, and clears doubts, in the first Clause of the Bill, about the people who are to be available from the Services. Earlier, the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) was laying great stress on the need to call this a Civil Defence service. Therefore "Civil Defence" comes first and "Armed Forces" comes second. In this instance the Armed Forces are brought in, and we are laying additional Civil Defence responsibility on members of the Armed Forces. Therefore I think it is right to say that this is a Civil Defence (Armed Forces) Bill.

We fully appreciate the bigger question about which the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has spoken now and earlier. This is a limited Measure. It is bringing available Armed Forces to help Civil Defence and, therefore, I think "Civil Defence" should be the main words.

Mr. Wigg

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, I am sure unwittingly, misrepresented what I said. What I said earlier was not at all inconsistent with what I have said on this Amendment. I was saying that it was necessary to remember that we are a civilian country. We have to rely on what has been the genius of our people to organise from the bottom up rather than, as the military mind works, waiting for a directive from the top down.

I am sorry to be controversial at this late stage, but I cannot help thinking that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not read the report of the proceedings in another place. For the first time, this Bill places a legal liability on the members of the Armed Forces. This Bill is concerned with the Armed Forces and, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, for the first time we are taking this step of bringing the Armed Forces into association with Civil Defence. I am very sorry that we are ending on this highly controversial note, but if the Minister cannot do better than that, and make a

real effort to see our point of view, I hope that my hon. Friends will go into the Division Lobby against the Government.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

I am not convinced that either Title would be appropriate. This Bill contains neither provisions for the defence of the civil population nor the Armed Forces. In my opinion it would be better to let it go unnamed and allow the Bill to be anonymous.

Question put, "That the words 'Civil Defence (Armed Forces),' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 168.

Division No 226. AYES [8.11 p.m.
Ailken, W. T. George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G Lloyd Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)
Alport, C. J. M. Glover, D. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Arbutnot, John Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Gough, C. F. H. Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Astor, Hon. J. J. Gower, H. R. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Graham, Sir Fergus Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Baldwin, A. E. Gridley, Sir Arnold Medlicott, Brig. F.
Barter, Anthony Grimond, J. Mellor, Sir John
Barlow, Sir John Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Hall, John (Wycombe) Neave, Airey
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Harris, Reader (Heston) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Nield, Basil (Chester)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Bevins, J. R. (Texteth) Harvie-Watt, Sir George Nugent, G. R. H.
Bishop, F. P. Hay, John Oakshott, H. D.
Black, C. W. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel O'Neill, Hon. Prelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Heath, Edward Osborne, C.
Braine, B. R. Higgs, J. M. C. Page, R. G.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W H Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Perkins, Sir Robert
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Brooman-White, R. C. Hirst, Geoffrey Pitt, Miss E. M.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Holland-Martin, C, J. Powell, J. Enoch
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G T Hollis, M. C. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Bullard, D. G. Hope, Lord John Raikes, Sir Victor
Burden, F. F. A. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Ramsden, J. E.
Campbell, Sir David Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Redmayne, M.
Carr, Robert Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Renton, D. L. M.
Cary, Sir Robert Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Robertson, Sir David
Channon, H. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Russell, R. S.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Cole, Norman Hylton-Foster, Sir H B. H. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Colegate, W. A. Hughes-Hallett, Vice-Admiral J Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Cenanl, Maj. Sir Roger Iremonger, T. L. Scott, R. Donald
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Johnson, Eric (Blaekley) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Crouch, R. F. Joyson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Crowder, Sir John (Finehley) Kaberry, D. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Kerby, Capt. H. B. Spearman, A. C. M.
Deedes, W. F. Kerr, H. W. Spans, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)
Digby, S. Wingfield Lambton, Viscount Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Stevens, Geoffrey
Dormer, Sir P. W. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Doughty, C. J. A. Lindsay, Martin Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond) Linstead, Sir H. N. Storey, S.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Summers, G. S.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Errington, Sir Erie Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Teeling, W.
Fell, A. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Finlay, Graeme McCallum, Major D. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Fisher, Nigel Macdonald, Sir Peter Thorneycroft, Rt.Hn Peter (Monmouth)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T D. (Pollok) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Tilney, John
Garner-Evans, E. H Maclean, Fitzroy Touche, Sir Gordon
Turner, H. F. L. Wall, Major Patrick Wills, G.
Tweedsmuir, Lady Ward, Hon. George (Worcastsr) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Vane, W. M. F. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth) Wood, Hon. R.
Vaughafl-Morgan, J. K Wellwood, W.
Vosper, D. F. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.) Mr. Robert Allan and
Walker-Smith, D. C. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter) Colonel Harrison.
Allan, Arthur (Bosworth Hamilton, W. W Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Hannan, W. Palmer, A. M F
Bacon, Miss Alice Hardy, E. A. Pargiter, G. A
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J Hargreaves, A. Parker, J.
Bence, C. R. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E) Peyton, J. W. W
Bonn, Hon. Wedgwood Hastings, S. Peart, T. F.
Benson, G. Hayman, F. H. Popplewell, E.
Berwick, F. Herbison, Miss M Porter, G.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hobson, C. R. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Blackburn, F. Holman, P. Proctor, W. T.
Blenkinsop, A Houghton, Douglas Rankin, John
Boardman, H. Hoy, J. H. Reeves, J.
Bowden, H. W. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Brockway, A. F. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Roberls, Albert (Normanton)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Burke, W. A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Ross, William
Burton, Miss F. E. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Short, E. W.
Carmichael, J. Jeger, George (Goole) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Champion, A J. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Chapman, W. D Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Chetwynd, G. R Johnson, James (Rugby) Simmons, c. J. (Brierley Hill)
Clunie, J. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech Skeffington, A. M.
Collick, P. H Jones, David (Hartlepool) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Collins, V. J. Keenan, W. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S)
Corbel, Mrs. Freda Kenyon, C, Snow, J. w.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Key, Rt Hon. C W Sorenson, R. W
Dames, p. King, Dr. H. M. Sparks, J. A.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Lawson, G. M. Steele, T.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stross, Dr. Barnett
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Sylvester, G. O.
Deer, G. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Delargy, H. J. MacColl, J. E. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Dodds, N. N. Mclnnes, J. Thomson, George (Dundee, E)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. McKay, John (Wallsend) Timmons, J.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) McLeavy, F. Viant, S. P.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Warbey, W N
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E) Weitzman, D.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mann, Mrs. Jean Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Fernyhough, E. Manuel, A. C. West, D. G.
Fienburgh, W. Marquand, Rt. Hon H A Wheeldon, W. E.
Finch, H. J. Mayhew, C. P. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E) Messer, Sir F Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Foot, M. M. Mikardo, Ian Wigg, George
Forman, J. C. Mitchtson, G. R Wilkins, W. A
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Monslow, W. Willey, F. T.
Freeman, John (Watford) Moody, A. S. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Gibson, C. W. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Gooch, E. G. Morley, R. Willis, E G.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R Morris, Percy (Swansea, W) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightsirle)
Grey, C. F. Mulley, F. W. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oldfield, W. H Yates, V F.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Oliver, G. H.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Oswald, T. TELLERS FOR THK NOES:
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Padley, W E Mr. Holmes and Mr. Wa'lar

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.