HC Deb 05 June 1980 vol 985 c1665
12. Mr. Allan Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for he Home Department how many fall-out shelters are constructed under, in or adjoining public buildings; and how many new such shelters are under construction.

Mr. Brittan

No central records are kept because it has not been general Government policy to provide fall-out shelters in public buildings.

Mr. Roberts

May I congratulate the Minister on the added responsibilities that he has been given in this direction? That adequately illustrates the priorities of the Government. They have made this job more important after downgrading the job of the Minister with responsibilities for the disabled.

Is the Minister aware that there is great anger on Merseyside that public money is being spent on fall-out shelters under such buildings as police stations, when there is no public money available for peace-time activities such as industrial investment? Does not the Minister accept that extra expenditure on these fall-out shelters is kidding the public into believing that there is a defence against nuclear weapons when there is not?

Mr. Brittan

Since I have said that it is not general Government policy to provide fall-out shelters in public buildings I can only conclude that the hon. Gentleman, kind as his welcome to me was, devised his supplementary question before he had heard the main answer.

Mr. Churchill

While accepting that Her Majesty's Government are quite right to put great emphasis on deterring rather than surviving a war, would my hon. and learned Friend, none the less, take steps to identify all existing buildings which may have basements and underground garages suitable as fall-out shelters?

Mr. Brittan

Local authorities have been asked to carry out a survey of existing buildings to identify those capable of providing shelter. That survey is proceeding.