HC Deb 21 June 1984 vol 62 cc468-9
9. Mr. Walden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that civil defence resources are adequate to deal with the consequences of a possible terrorist nuclear attack.

Mr. Brittan

Our main aim must be to become aware of any impending such attack and be in a position to avert it. If an attack none the less occurred, effective civil defence and emergency service planning would play a vital part in minimising and alleviating its consequences.

Mr. Walden

Is my right hon. and learned Friend sure that the county emergency planning officers are aware of all the contingency plans?

Mr. Brittan

It is very important indeed that the police and all other agencies involved in countering terrorism in all its forms, such as the officers to whom my hon. Friend refers, should have the appropriate contingency plans. Certainly I am anxious to ensure that they do.

Mr. Boyes

Does the Home Secretary agree that his answer shows that there is no clear defence against nuclear attack, whether by terrorists or in any other form? The shelters, which I prefer to call personal crematoria, are certainly no defence. The only defence is to work as hard as we can here and in other Parliaments to rid the world of all nuclear weapons.

Mr. Britton

I agree that progress towards arms limitation is by far the best route. However, a terrorist nuclear attack would be the sort of attack against which a substantial measure of protection could be provided, and there can be no doubt that the proper use of our civil defence mechanism would greatly mitigate the consequences of such an attack.

Mr. Nelson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the new regulations, and in particular the 100 per cent. grants, are making a useful and prudent contribution to the improvement of civil defence? However, why did my right hon. and learned Friend drop the provision for local authority staff to participate in the training exercises and all the other activities associated with improving our civil defence effort?

Mr. Britton

Because we had received very strong representations to that effect from the local authorities themselves.

Mr. Haynes

When will the Home Secretary wake up to the fact that if we did not have nuclear weapons terrorists could not get their hands on them? On the question of the resources devoted to civil defence, when will the Home Secretary persuade his Government that there is no need to spend money on civil defence because no defence against nuclear weapons is possible?

Mr. Brittan

It might have occurred to the hon. Gentleman that terrorists would not necessarily help themselves to our nuclear weapons—they could conceivably get hold of other people's.