HC Deb 29 November 1984 vol 68 cc1075-6
5. Mr. Gerald Bowden

asked the Secretary of Slate for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in Northern Ireland in the completion of local authority emergency planning and the raising and training of civil defence volunteers.

16. Mr. Hayes

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the level of civil defence emergency planning in Northern Ireland.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Nicholas Scott)

Northern Ireland is one of 11 home defence regions in the United Kingdom, and civil defence emergency planning in the Province is being developed along broadly the same lines as those in the rest of the United Kingdom. I am satisfied that reasonable progress is being made in developing preparedness in Northern Ireland.

The current legislation requiring local authorities in England and Wales to undertake emergency planning does not at present apply in the Province. Discussions have begun between the Northern Ireland Office and district councils on the latter's role in emergency planning, with a view to the introduction of similar legislation to that applying in England and Wales. These discussions will include the question of harnessing local voluntary effort.

Mr. Bowden

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there can be no effective civil defence in Northern Ireland unless and until emergency planning officers have been appointed at both county and district level?

Mr. Scott

The position in Northern Ireland is slightly different, in that under regional control, as we have no county organisation in Northern Ireland, there are four area organisations, which correspond to the health and social service area board organisations. Both the regional and area levels are under the control of my Department. We have made substantial progress in identifying plans and individuals who will fulfil those roles. Discussions along those lines are in progress with the district councils.

Mr. Hayes

Will my hon. Friend do all in his power to encourage the greatest and closest co-operation between the Northern Ireland radioactivity monitoring organisations and their equivalents in the Republic?

Mr. Scott

The United Kingdom warning and monitoring organisation, of which Northern Ireland is a part, exercises regularly. Volunteers and others from Northern Ireland regularly take part in exercises in cooperation with their counterparts in Great Britain.

Mr. Neil Thorne

What purpose-built buildings are available at regional and area level? Will my hon. Friend ensure that those buildings are adequate?

Mr. Scott

We have an intermediate programme for adapting certain buildings to be better able to provide for the purposes of civil defence. There is a provision over the period 1986 to 1988 for purpose-built buildings.

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