HC Deb 12 April 1984 vol 58 c514
5. Mr. Burt

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider developing the Civil Defence College as a centre of excellence for civil defence.

Mr. Hurd

Yes, Sir. Following the retirements later this year of Air Marshal Sir Leslie Mayor and Mr. Frank Armstrong, the college will assume responsibility for fostering voluntary effort in civil defence and advising on the training and exercising of civil defence volunteers. The Civil Service Commission will advertise after Easter an open competition for the post of college principal.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary take this opportunity of thanking Sir Leslie Mayor and Mr. Armstrong for their excellent work.

Mr. Burt

I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement. In view of the increasing worry expressed by many local authorities, is my right hon. Friend contemplating taking any further steps? Will he consider expanding the library facilities at the college to include an information service?

Mr. Hurd

I shall consider of expanding the library facilities. We shall be advertising at the Home Office for a new post of civil defence adviser, who will concentrate initially on reviewing the progress made by local authorities in carrying out their functions under the new civil defence functions.

Mr. Hunter

As the weight and pattern of a future nuclear attack cannot be predicted, will my right hon. Friend comment on contingency National Health Service planning? Is he satisfied that sufficient attention is being given to that matter?

Mr. Hurd

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. With the cooperation of the British Medical Association, he is carrying forward the work of planning medical services in case of war.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is it not now time to stop all this nonsense and the waste of time and money? Is it not time to drop the pretence that there is any adequate defence against nuclear war, when the only real defence is to work for peace and not, as the Government are doing, to prepare for war? Is it not now time that the Government devoted the same degree of energy to the disarmament talks as they are giving to the creation of a Dad's Army?

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Gentleman is making himself look very foolish if in the House he starts to rubbish the concept of civil defence, which is supported by all parties as a commonsense, humanitarian response to the possibilities of either conventional or nuclear attack.