HC Deb 29 May 1956 vol 553 c15
19. Mr. Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the results of the Civil Defence exercise "Try-out".

Mr. Head

This was a large and complicated exercise, and it will be some time before all the lessons to be learnt from it can be fully digested. It is, however, already clear that those concerned in the exercise have gained valuable experience in operating joint military and Civil Defence headquarters, in the passing of information and in movement by road after a nuclear attack. This was the first opportunity for the Mobile Defence Corps to take part in an exercise in its war-time rôle, and the headquarters of eight battalions were concerned. In general, procedures for cooperation between the Army and the Civil Defence organisation have been well tested.

Mr. Lewis

Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the statement, reported in the Press, allegedly made by Lieut.-General Sir Francis Festing, who was in command of Eastern Command during the exercise, that our hydrogen bomb defence is useless, that the whole thing was a complete wash-out, and that it would have been better if the exercise had been called exercise "Wash-out" rather than exercise "Try-out"? Was the exercise not a waste of time and money, according to the officers concerned?

Mr. Head

That statement is completely at variance with the official report which I have had from General Festing.