HC Deb 15 April 1958 vol 586 cc32-3
50. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister which Minister is now responsible for evacuation in the event of war.

The Prime Minister

The Minister of Housing and Local Government is the Minister designated under the Civil Defence Act, 1948, as responsible for evacuation arrangements for the civil population in England and Wales. As the hon. Member was informed by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal on 19th March, the Home Secretary is responsible for co-ordinating the defence plans of all the civil agencies of government, including evacuation plans.

Mr. Hughes

Could the Prime Minister tell us who is really responsible for the problems of evacuating 12 million people? Does he think that the Minister of Housing and Local Government is capable of organising such a momentous operation?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend has proved himself to be a very capable Minister. The hon. Gentleman must know very well that it is not an uncommon method in our system, where a number of Departments are concerned, each Minister being responsible for his own part, to have another Minister, particularly a senior Minister, responsible for co-ordination.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not too gigantic a task for the Minister of Housing and Local Government to make himself responsible not only for evacuation but also for eviction?

The Prime Minister

I thought that that supplementary question would be asked, but I was rather disappointed that it did not come from below the Gangway.

Commander Donaldson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last year a special course was arranged at Sunningdale for hon. Members to see the effectiveness of civil defence but that only eight hon. Members from either side attended? Will he arrange for a similar course to be devised this spring so that hon. Members on both sides who are really interested in civil defence can avail thmselves of the information which is there afforded?