HC Deb 22 April 1971 vol 815 cc1342-3
6. Mrs. Knight

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are his intentions with regard to the future rôle and organisation of civil defence; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sharples

The Government's examination of Home Defence arrangements is still in progress and it is hoped that a statement will be ready before the Summer Recess.

Mrs. Knight

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the civil defence people carry out a wide-ranging group of functions and that they are valuable voluntary workers who feel concerned about what the future of the service is to be? Will my hon. Friend expedite the report as quickly as he can?

Mr. Sharples

I appreciate the concern of the voluntary workers who have taken part in civil defence activities, but it is right that there should be a full and comprehensive review of the whole of the civil defence arrangements, which is what we are embarked upon, to ensure that we achieve not only effectiveness but cost-effectiveness.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is it being taken into account in the review that it is generally accepted that there is no such thing as civil defence against nuclear war and that the services of these very good people might be better used in creating a national emergency service for general civil disturbances and emergencies of various sorts?

Mr. Sharples

We are carrying out a very broad review in order to cover the whole question, including the kind of question which the hon. Gentleman raised.

Mr. Longden

If, while the review is going on, a citizen wants to know, as one of my constituents does, what he or she should do in the event of a surprise nuclear attack, to whom does he or she turn for information?

Mr. Sharples

I think that in the short term she had better ask my hon. Friend.