HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc621-2
27. Mr. Sharples

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in considering his reorganisation of civil defence, he will take into account the services rendered by the civil defence organisation at the time of the Aberfan disaster.

Miss Bacon

Yes, Sir: and I am glad to have this opportunity of paying tribute to the valuable help given by civil defence workers at Aberfan and in other peace-time emergencies. But any reorganisation must have regard principally to the main function of the civil defence organisation.

Mr. Sharples

While joining with the right hon. Lady in that tribute to this voluntary force, may I ask whether she does not consider that a force of this kind has a rôle to play in disasters of this kind? Will she give the matter further consideration

Miss Bacon

Yes. The value of the help that members of the Civil Defence Corps have given in peace-time emergencies is not in question, but the main task of the Civil Defence Corps is in time of war. I have nothing to add in this respect to the Answer of my right hon. Friend to the Question asked on 25th October.

Mr. Horner

Bearing in mind the enormous area from which these civil defence volunteers were drawn and that there were no fewer than four separate fire brigades involved in the rescue, does not my right hon. Friend agree that the lesson of Aberfan is that civil defence is totally inadequate for its main purpose, bearing in mind that one medium H bomb on Cardiff would create something like 50,000 Aberfans in South Wales?

Miss Bacon

My hon. Friend is getting wide of the question. As he will know, my right hon. Friend is waiting for replies from the local authorities. I take the opportunity of paying tribute to the fire services in addition to the Civil Defence Corps for what they did at Aberfan.

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