HC Deb 20 March 1986 vol 94 c407
13. Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Government intend to undertake a public recruitment campaign for civil defence volunteers.

16. Dr. Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government intend to increase the level of civil defence volunteer training and activity in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Giles Shaw

Developments of this nature, while highly admirable, can be effective only in partnership with local authorities and if they are properly implementing the Civil Defence Regulations 1983. The Government give the highest priority to achieving this planned state of preparedness.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is now some three years since the House started to get concerned at the Government's inability to put sufficient pressure upon those local authorities which are quite deliberately jeopardising their citizens? Is it not about time that the regulations were amended to put some teeth into them so that local authorities could be persuaded to start recruiting the many people who want to help in this sort of valuable work?

Mr. Shaw

I fully support my hon. Friend's statement. He will recall that last year my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary issued the instructions that the regulations be enacted, and local authorities were given until December 1985 to produce plans of their civil defence preparedness. The plans are now being thoroughly investigated, and I shall be reporting to the House the result of that in due course.

Dr. Blackburn

Will my right hon. Friend recommend to local authorities that the civil defence forces that we have are a valuable means of helping in peacetime catastrophes, and will he press this with the local authorities?

Mr. Shaw

Yes, Sir. Our present range of volunteers include 1,100 scientific advisers, 13,000 community volunteers and 1,750 experts in communications. All these have an important role to play, and many of them could play a useful role in an entirely peaceful emergency.