HC Deb 04 July 1957 vol 572 cc1287-8
25. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes in civil defence policy he has under consideration in the light of the implications of the White Paper on Defence.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The review of civil defence plans is a continuing process, but no changes were called for by the conclusions announced in the Defence White Paper, which confirmed that civil defence must play an essential part in the defence plan.

Mr. Robinson

Without going into the question whether civil defence is of any value at all in a thermo-nuclear age, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will consider the possibility of transferring responsibilities and making them either regional or national instead of local?

Mr. Butler

One of the great features of civil defence is that we should enlist the co-operation of the local authorities, otherwise volunteers do not feel that they are attached to their own localities. While I am ready to entertain any ideas, I believe that it is important to retain the local connection.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that for some years now military appreciation of the problem of civil defence has recognised that in the first period this will be the main responsibility of the military, and should not this be recognised in its organisation?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, but I think there are limits to what the military can do compared with a local authority in connection with its own local force and its training, and I attach great importance to the latter.

29. Mrs. L. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the knowledge now available about the effects of nuclear warfare, he will introduce legislation to revise the Civil Defence Act accordingly.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The Civil Defence Act, 1948, provides a broad statutory framework for civil defence administration. There is ample scope to revise plans and policies, as necessary, without amending legislation.

Mrs. Jeger

In view of the fact that paragraph 12 of the Defence White Paper states that there is no adequate protection for the people of this country in the event of nuclear war, surely the Home Secretary should consult other members of the Government with a view to revising the whole question?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I am in constant communication with my colleagues, hourly and daily. I am fully aware of all their points of view, and I am not prepared to alter my answer on the strength of such consultation.