HC Deb 18 February 1971 vol 811 cc2101-2
10. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to establish an organisation of emergency service volunteers; and when he expects to announce details of a complete scheme.

11. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will be able to make a statement on the future of the emergency voluntary services.

Mr. Sharples

My right hon. Friend is not yet in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Iremonger

Will my hon. Friend say just how enthusiastic the Government are about this subject as a matter of defence and social policy?

Mr. Sharples

It is important that there should be a comprehensive review of the home defence system, and that we should get it right before making a statement.

Mr. Blaker

I accept that this matter requires careful planning, but does my hon. Friend agree that it will help the members of the voluntary civil aid services to continue their membership and to retain the buildings which they have managed to obtain if they know that an early announcement will be made?

Mr. Sharples

I appreciate the feeling among people interested in the voluntary organisations, in particular, that an early statement should be made. I can give an assurance that a statement will be made as soon as possible, but it must follow the comprehensive review.

Mr. Ashton

Before he makes a statement, will the hon. Gentleman note that if any attempt is made by emergency service volunteers to act as blacklegs during an official dispute it is likely to cause a great deal of upset in society and may do a lot more harm than good?

Mr. Sharples

I do not think that that point arises from the Question.

Mr. Jessel

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the possible use of voluntary emergency services in the event of air crashes in the vicinity of airports?

Mr. Sharples

The police have overall responsibility for matters of that kind. Where volunteers can be used they will be used.