HC Deb 31 March 1983 vol 40 cc448-9
3. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next proposes to discuss with the Greater London council the Government's plans for the protection of the population of Greater London against a possible nuclear attack.

Mr. Mayhew

I last met representatives of the Greater London council on 28 February to discuss civil defence matters. We have no plans for a further meeting.

Mr. Townsend

Does my hon. and learned Friend appreciate that my constituents are contemptuous of, rather than conned by, the frivolity of the GLC's so-called nuclear-free zone, and that they are greatly concerned to learn that the GLC emergency planning unit has been reduced by 23 to six? Will my hon. and learned Friend do all he can to instil a sense of realism and responsibility into the GLC Labour leadership over this important matter?

Mr. Mayhew

I agree with my hon. Friend. The GLC has followed the exhortation of the Labour party national executive committee to provide the bare minimum of protection to its ratepayers consistent with the present inadequate law. That is why my right hon. Friend proposes to bring new regulations before Parliament after Easter. At my last meeting the GLC assured me that it would at all times comply with the law, however it may be changed.

Mr. Neil Thorne

If my hon. and learned Friend fails to get the action that he has just mentioned, will he consider transferring this responsibility to the London boroughs or the Home Office?

Mr. Mayhew

My hon. Friend, who takes a great interest in these important matters, knows that there are powers under the existing regulation to enforce compliance with the law. It is in this country's tradition that local authorities comply with and do not defy the law. Having regard to the assurances that I was given by the GLC the other day, which I have just mentioned, I have no reason to believe that it will not comply with the law that Parliament has approved.