§ 2.35 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN rose to call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the problems of Home Defence, including Civil Defence; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Nathan I rise to move the Motion standing in his name. My first words must be of apology on his behalf for being unable to be here. The day before yesterday he rang me up to say that an operation which he had hoped could be postponed until after 210 Christmas had now to take place this week, and his medical advisers told him that it could not safely be postponed beyond to-day. So I begin by expressing his apologies to your Lordships, and my own apologies for being a substitute in a subject which I am sure he would have dealt with far more effectively and far more in the manner that a subject of this importance deserves. Lord Nathan has done a great deal of work on this subject in the last few months. I can only say that I have had the benefit of consultations with him, and I hope that what I have to say will be broadly in line with the speech he would have delivered had he been here.
§ I do not think any apology is needed for raising this subject at the present time. For a long while Civil Defence has been, if not uppermost in people's minds, at least not far below the surface, and if of recent months the international relaxation of tension has given us rather more relief from anxiety, that does not mean that the subject can be altogether dismissed. At the same time, the first thing to be said on the subject, as has been said by Her Majesty's Government in the last, if not the last two, Statements on Defence, is that the only real defence against nuclear warfare is the avoidance of war. In that, Her Majesty's Government will naturally have the support of everyone in the country.
§ In the Statement on Defence issued in February of this year Her Majesty's Government devoted a certain amount of space to the subject of Home Defence, and perhaps this would be the point to mention that there tends to be some confusion between "Horne Defence" and "Civil Defence." My noble friend put down the Motion in terms of Home Defence, but he later added the words "Civil Defence" so that there should be no doubt that he intended to cover the whole field. I think Section VIII of the Statement on Defence makes it clear that the Government regard the whole field as one—in other words, what in the last war we called passive air defence, or air raid precautions, or civil defence are regarded as one with the defence of the United Kingdom against attack.
§ A number of headings were given in that Statement—the Civil Defence Services, the Armed Forces, the Mobile Defence Corps, Evacuation and Shelter, 211 Casualties and Homeless, and so on. We were told that the situation "calls for a complete overhaul of our home defence plans," but almost every paragraph in that section contained a clause to the effect that no decision had yet been reached; that the situation was still under review for re-examination, and that it was not possible to assess the full results of nuclear attack. Since the publication of the Statement, eight or nine months have passed and nothing further has come from Her Majesty's Government. It was for that reason that my noble friend thought fit to put down this Motion. What are Her Majesty's Government waiting for? If they are waiting for finality in weapon development, they will wait for ever, because one can never afford to wait for the final assessment of a new development in weapons of war. Meanwhile, there reigns in the field of Home Defence what I think can only be called stagnation.
§ Some six months ago the Labour Party brought out their own pamphlet on Civil Defence. It was a pamphlet written with no access to official or secret information, but at the same time it summed up the risks and the dangers of nuclear attack; it examined the possibilities of defence and protection and made recommendations as to the action required. That pamphlet was entirely objective in its approach; it was full of common sense, and it made use of the best scientific and other information available at the time. Surely Her Majesty's Government might do the same—they might take the best available information and say what their intentions are. Before I leave that matter perhaps I had better say that it must surely he quite clear that there is no Party capital to be made in this country out of the subject of Defence, whether Home or Civil Defence, or any other form of defence. Any action taken by the Opposition is intended to induce Her Majesty's Government to give a lead and thereby improve the state of the preparations for Civil Defence.
§ The problem of nuclear warfare has been widely discussed in the Press and in many publications which have come from the United States. A number of varying estimates of the likely damage has been made, but it seems that the following is roughly the effect that is to be expected from an attack on this country by nuclear 212 weapons. A bomb exploded over London would destroy all buildings, other than those specially strengthened, within a radius of five miles. It would severely damage all buildings within a radius of fifteen miles. It would cause fatal burns to persons in the open up to twelve miles away. It would cause fires in buildings up to the same distance. Finally, it would contaminate by radioactive fallout an area extending some 200 miles down wind on a width of about 40 miles—that is, some 8,000 square miles would be covered. The fall-out would be fatal to human beings and animals caught unprotected in the open and exposed for a certain period to the rays. The length of fatal exposure would, of course, vary with the distance from the point of explosion, known as "ground zero." The Statement on Defence was guilty of no exaggeration when it said that such weapons would cause destruction, human and material on an unprecedented scale.
§ There are two measures which, in conjunction, could reduce the loss of life in such conditions. One is the digging of underground shelters. It appears that underground shelter gives a fair degree of protection against radioactivity anywhere except in the immediate vicinity of the explosion. Against the fall-out we are told that trenches with a small amount of head cover will give adequate protection; but one has only to think of the populations of our big cities spending a night in slit trenches in the countryside to realise that such a policy is quite impracticable. Then there is the question of the provision, or the strengthening, of basement and underground rooms in existing or new buildings. We should like to know what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Are they going to urge that all new construction should contain underground rooms to provide shelter?
§ Dispersal is another question. What was known as "evacuation" in the last war was a simple matter compared with this, for, in a nuclear war, where, in these islands, would be a safe area? Moreover the conduct of the war, when a war broke out, or, indeed, the continuance of civilised life in the country, would necessitate large numbers of the population—probably millions—remaining in the cities at their work. So dispersal on an ideal scale to minimise casualties is also out of the question, more especially 213 as we know that a dozen hydrogen bombs, suitably placed, would cover with their fall-out area almost the whole of these islands. Nevertheless, with some degree of protection against fall-out there is a possibility of moving numbers of people from more densely populated areas into other parts of the country. Her Majesty's Government were thinking of that at the time that the Statement on Defence was written, and they said in that Statement that they were reexamining policies of dispersal and shelter. I wonder how far that reexamination has progressed. We cannot afford to wait till the emergency is upon us before beginning the planning for an evacuation scheme; that must be done months or years beforehand, and the authorities who will have to carry it out must have warning so that they can start making their plans. I heard that when one local authority recently asked whether further information could be given by the Government they were told that nothing could be published. I would urge upon Her Majesty's Government that time is slipping by, and some indication must be given if an effective scheme is to be put in train. Only when they know the intentions of the Government can local authorities start planning.
§ There are numerous other matters upon which the Government doubtless have plans, yet nobody except the Government know about them. It would take far too long to go into the full list, but what, for instance, is being done about emergency hospitals, the care of the sick and casualties? What about essential services, fuel and power supplies, drainage and particularly water, which is so easily contaminated? What about food supplies, livestock, crops and emergency foodstocks? Frankly, unless Her Majesty's Government can give positive assurances on these crucial matters, one can only assume that there is no practical Civil Defence scheme in being. Moreover, there is another effect of the lack of information: unless the public can be given some inkling of the intentions of the Government they will not volunteer for the Civil Defence Services in the numbers required. We know that since November, 1949, some 338,000 men and women have joined the Civil Defence Corps, in addition, I think, to about 100,000 in the Auxiliary Fire Service, the 214 National Hospital Service Reserve and the Special Constabulary. No-one can claim that that is a very encouraging total of recruitment. And is it, in fact, merely a deception? Does that figure represent trained people or simply the total of enrolment? If it is only the total of enrolment can the Government tell us what is the number of men and women who are fit and trained for their jobs?
§ Lastly, there is the subject of the greatest importance—command and organisation of the Civil Defence Services. The Government have decided that all the Armed Forces are in future to receive elementary Civil Defence training as part of their normal training. They are also to form a mobile defence corps for fire-fighting, rescue and ambulance services. Can the Government tell us a little more about that? They said in the Statement on Defence that some forty-eight battalions would be organised over the next three or four years, and that it was hoped that the first intake for training would be going to their training depots towards the end of this year. We are now in November, and we should like the Government to give us some progress report on this scheme.
§ Then what about other branches and departments of the Armed Forces? I think it is accepted by good authorities that mobilisation and the transport of Armed Forces across the Channel to the Continent is an operation that cannot take place in a nuclear war. In a war that opens with nuclear weapons—as Her Majesty's Government definitely think it will—we cannot carry out that long, intricate and complicated operation of reservists travelling to their depôts, being medically examined, being equipped, being formed into units, going to their ports, being embarked, and so on. In the conditions which Her Majesty's Government envisage that would be quite out of the question. Therefore the Armed Forces, surely, will find their first duty in the protection of their own country, and the citizens of their own country, against enemy attack by nuclear weapons. What is to be the system of command? We are to have military forces, organised, armed and disciplined forces, under their own commanders. We are to have volunteer services under their own civilian authorities. What is to be the chain of command both before an emergency—in 215 peace time, that is—and during an emergency? That is one of the most important questions to be settled.
I notice that the Prime Minister recently said that arrangements are being made:
to co-ordinate, under the Ministry of Defence, planning and training for the joint action of civil and military forces in home defence.
It is good to know that arrangements are being made, but above all things there must be a proper system and chain of command laid down in an emergency. Remember the Regional Commissioners organisation that was set up in the last war. The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, knows much more about that than I do because he was himself a Deputy Regional Commissioner. Mercifully, in the last war we never came to the point where the Government had to decentralise command, but in conditions of nuclear attack one of the first things likely to happen will be that central control will break down. Therefore the Regional Commissioners organisation and machinery, if it is not in existence now, must be set up at once—in skeleton if necessary; but it must be in being. There must be a working system long before there is any question of an emergency.
§ I should like to utter one word of warning to Her Majesty's Government. I hope they remember that traditionally the people of these islands do not look with favour on any suggestion of military control over civilians, and I am quite sure that any system of command must make it absolutely clear—it must be known without a shadow of doubt—that the control and government of the people or areas in this country is vested ultimately in a civilian Minister. A subject such as this can be dealt with only very sketchily in a short speech such as the one I am making. I should like to sum up by saying that we feel that what has been lacking, and is still lacking, is a lead from Her Majesty's Government. Local authorities cannot plan, and the volunteers on whom Civil Defence will ultimately depend will not come forward for training, until the Government show much more frankness and take the country into their confidence. On behalf of my noble friend Lord Nathan, I beg to move for Papers.216
§ 2.58 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON)
My Lords, I should like first of all to join with the noble Earl who has just sat down in saying how sorry we are that the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has been unable to move his Motion in the House this afternoon. I hope that it will not be long before he is well again and able to take his place in your Lordships' House. All of us who have heard speeches which he has made on Defence matters and on Service matters generally in the last few years will know that we have missed a most helpful and constructive speech. In his Motion, the noble Lord expressly used the words "Home Defence" as well as "Civil Defence," and the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who has taken his place, has ably and widely ranged over this subject. No one, I am sure, will complain of this, since it is a very long time since we had in your Lordships' House a debate on Civil Defence and Home Defence. I looked it up, and I think that the last occasion was in October, 1950—that is, five years ago—on a Motion introduced by my noble friend Lord Teynham. We are grateful, therefore, to the noble Earl for giving us this opportunity of discussing this important subject.
I did have a word a week or two ago with the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, who was kind enough to give me some indication of the broad lines of his approach to this subject. For the convenience of your Lordships, it was decided that I should get up at this stage and give the House an indication of the lines on which the Government are thinking so that the debate which follows will be the more informed. Lord Nathan, was kind enough to send me a copy of what he would have said. He professed to find in the fact that my noble friend Lord Mancroft and I were both to speak in this debate, something (and these are the words in his speech)that was mildly symptomatic of the confusion, uncertainty and indecisiveness which lingered in our arrangements for Home Defence.Nothing could be farther from the truth. Neither my noble friend nor I is confused, uncertain or indecisive.
The responsibilities for Civil and Home Defence are clearly laid down. I would remind the noble Earl, who quoted 217 a little of the speech, of the words of the Prime Minister at Bournemouth on October 8. He said this:As I have said, this decision with regard to the reserve forces links them with the work of Civil Defence. It is obvious with the development of nuclear weapons there are new problems to be faced, and we are at work on these. In the first place, we must think of this question as one problem of Home Defence, which is a better term than Civil Defence, a defence in which both civil and military forces have to take part. I have made certain arrangements within the Government to co-ordinate planning and training for this purpose under the Minister of Defence. A full-time Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, will be appointed in the near future.This statement shows that the Minister of Defence, as Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee, is charged with planning the part which the Armed Forces would play in Home Defence in war, and with co-ordinating the plans of the military authorities with those of the civil authorities.
The Home Secretary is charged by the Civil Defence Act, 1948, with responsibility for Civil Defence—that is, for the tasks that would be carried out in war by the civil authorities, except in so far as other Ministers have been designated by Order in Council as responsible for specific tasks. For example, the Minister of Health is, naturally, responsible for measures to deal with casualties and diseases; the Minister of Housing is responsible for the maintenance of water supplies, and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for feeding services. The Home Secretary retains responsibility for co-ordinating this civil planning. Home Defence plans as a whole, like other elements of the defence programme, are discussed by the Defence Committee, of which the Prime Minister is the Chairman and the Minister of Defence Deputy Chairman. Other machinery exists for consultation where it is needed.
The background of any discussion of Home Defence must be, of course, that of thermo-nuclear warfare, and it is in that fact that our debate this afternoon on this subject must be so radically different from those of past years. Your Lordships may not remember that yesterday was the third anniversary of the first megaton explosion in the world's history. This event constituted a scientific development of another order of magnitude over and above that already reached at Hiroshima and Nagasaki only seven years 218 earlier. It is impossible, when an event of this kind occurs, to appreciate at once all the lessons, scientific and otherwise, which can be learnt. Therefore, it is important to recall that, apart from the Russian explosion in August, 1953, from which naturally we were not in a position to learn many lessons, the only other megaton explosions which have occurred were those in the United States in the spring of 1954. It is from what the Americans have been able to say of this series of trials that we have learnt, and are still learning, the lessons that will enable us to make any sensible judgment on the Civil Defence measures necessary in the event of an attack by megaton weapons on this country. So it will be seen that it is only during the past eighteen months that we have had any kind of opportunity to study the many problems which arise. In the Defence White Paper of February this year a very rough description was given of the effects of such weapons, based on the scientific deductions from the evidence then available.
I do not propose to offer any comment on the Civil Defence measures taken by previous Governments. I will only say that, however effective they may have been against the kind of threat with which they were designed to compete, it must be perfectly clear that the situation was completely and entirely altered by the arrival of the megaton weapon. In the months following the American trials of 1954 our scientists were busy forming conclusions about the effects and attempting to apply their conclusions to the quite different kind of conditions which would occur in this country should such explosions take place. American explosions were carried out in the Pacific on coral rock. Our scientists had to form their views of what might be likely to happen if such explosions occurred on the ordinary land surface in this country, which is of entirely different composition from coral rock.
It was not until December, 1954, that the scientific conclusions were sufficiently firm to enable the Government to consider what might be the result. I want to emphasise that in a matter of this kind there are a vast number of unknowns. We have in this country as good nuclear scientists as anywhere else in the world, but many of the conclusions which have to be drawn from events 219 of this kind are not quite matters of fact. Scientific theories have to be formed, and, so far as possible, tested against what is known to have happened. But the knowledge of what happened is in the nature of things singularly incomplete. For instance, it will be remembered that the American series of experiments were carried out in the Pacific Ocean, and it is much more difficult to obtain a continuous picture, which involves measurements and so on, over large areas of the surface of the sea than it is over land.
I think it is obvious that only broad conclusions could be drawn from the information available and that there was a most urgent need to amplify our knowledge. Steps have therefore been taken to obtain this knowledge, and this work is being intensified as it becomes clearer which particular lines are likely to be the more profitable to follow.
Nevertheless, several things which do follow as a result of the megaton bomb, are abundantly clear, even to the layman. In the days of ordinary high-explosive bombs or of kiloton atomic bombs, it was reasonably certain that any enemy attacking this country by air would go for specific targets. Those targets might be docks, they might be cities or towns; but they would certainly not be open country, since bombs dropped in open country would be completely wasted effort. A megaton bomb exploded on the ground anywhere not only destroys completely an area immediately surrounding the point of impact, but, in addition, lets loose a cloud of radioactive dust which, sooner or later, comes to earth over a wide area. The effect of this fall-out, as it is called, can quite easily be fatal over large areas if nothing is done about it. As a matter of fact, there is only one thing that can be done about it and that is, get under cover and stay there—perhaps for days on end—until the intensity of the fall-out has faded to a safe enough level to come out. Fall-out would cause a complete disruption of the ordinary life of the country throughout the area in which people will have to take cover.
One thing we can tell is that at the point where an H-bomb explodes there will be a central area that will be completely destroyed. But farther out there will be a zone where damage is lighter, 220 where there will be fires to put out, where people must be rescued from damaged buildings, and where there will be many injured and homeless who will need help and guidance. And over-shadowing all that will be the grim, invisible danger of fall-out. We are considering (my noble friend Lord Mancroft will develop this aspect at the end of the debate) the situation which arises with regard to shelter and evacuation.
Great problems arise in almost every part of the very wide field covered by Civil Defence. For instance, the existence of large concentrated stockpiles of food or other materials is not the right approach to this problem. Not only would such stockpiles be destroyed in the event of a direct hit, but the real difficulty in the aftermath of a megaton bomb attack is going to be communication and movement. We have, therefore, got to see what steps are needed to provide small stockpiles which are very widely scattered. Similarly, we have to see what is needed to avoid contamination of our agricultural produce. Here again, we have put in hand the necessary research.
Then there is the problem of protecting the importing capacity of this country—a matter on which the Government have been working for some time. The major ports of this country are vulnerable to nuclear attack, and plans have been made for the provision of alternative port facilities. The advent of the megaton bomb has, of course, made this more necessary than ever. These plans have gone beyond the paper stage; in suitable places additional quays and jetties are being built, and disused ones restored. Dredging inside some of our smaller harbours and in their approaches is being put in hand. Equipment has been provided, including a reserve of mobile cranes and plant for handling grain. Attention is also being paid to the special problems of rehabilitating ports after attack, and plans are being made for the provision of a pool of mobile equipment, such as generators and pumps, which would be stored away from target areas until it was needed.
I hope that I have said enough to convince your Lordships that the Government are following the right policy by not committing themselves to large and wholesale expenditure until that expenditure can be based on proper scientific 221 knowledge. The Statement on Defence, 1955, shows that the Government are well aware of the sort of problems the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, has mentioned. Indeed, he may remember the phrase used: that thermo-nuclear warfare would result in a struggle for survival of the grimmest kind, and that we went on to explain, in Part VIII of the Statement, to which he referred, how the problems of Home Defence were to be tackled. Work on this is proceeding and when the Defence Estimates and the annual Statement on Defence are published in February next year they will naturally deal with Home Defence as well as other types of defence and will explain what progress has been made.
It is not difficult to think of ways of spending very large sums of money on Home Defence. For example, last weekend I re-read the Labour Party's pamphlet on Civil Defence which was mentioned earlier, and although we do not accept all its conclusions, by and large it seems quite sensible. Naturally, it does not go into full details of statistics, but it outlines proposals which might involve anything between £2,000 million and £3,000 million in capital expenditure.
Defence, whether it be civil, home or purely money spent on the Services, costs a great deal of money, and it will not have escaped the attention of the noble Earl that the Chancellor of the Exchequer found it necessary to introduce a Budget last week—a Budget in which he announced certain economies in Government expenditure. The Government have therefore to be absolutely certain that the direction in which the limited amount of money for defence is spent is the right one. The Government believe that the consequences of nuclear war are so frightful that even more than before it is necessary to ensure that war does not break out. We believe that while working for peace in the United Nations, and at such conferences as are now going on in Geneva, the best possible means of preventing a nuclear war is by providing and maintaining a sufficient deterrent. We therefore think that the deterrent should have priority in our defence policy.
Unfortunately the cold war is still with us and there is the possibility that limited wars may break out, and we must have adequate forces to deal with these. In 222 these circumstances and with these commitments, the Government's policy in the field of Home Defence is to press on with research, training and planning and with measures to enable the Armed Forces to make a maximum contribution. As the Prime Minister said, all these matters are much more important than the provision of large material resources, although some material preparations will be necessary. It is certain that to throw all our resources into massive and costly preparations carried out at the maximum speed would lead to ruin and would not serve the overriding object of making war unlikely.
I come now to the question to which the noble Earl devoted a great part of his speech, that of command and control; but first of all, perhaps I should explain exactly what forces there are to command and control. We may think of them as divided into three echelons. The first echelon consists of the local voluntary Civil Defence Forces. They will be supplemented by R.A.F. reservists who will be trained during their National Service as fire-fighters to reinforce the regular fire services of the country. The second echelon is the forty-eight battalions of the Mobile Defence Corps, specially trained in first aid and rescue and, in the case of twelve battalions, in fire-fighting for Home Defence purposes. The noble Earl asked me how the mobile Defence Corps was getting on. There are twenty-five battalions in course of being raised and those National Service men who are earmarked for the battalions are attached during the last month of their whole-time service to one of the War Office depots for training in Civil Defence.
Then there is the third echelon, consisting of all Armed Forces, whether Regular or Reserve, in the country at the time with the exception of those engaged in, or supporting, combat operations. In a future global war the comparatively leisurely mobilisation on the pattern of 1914 and 1939 will no longer be possible. The Service Departments are therefore engaged in revising their mobilisation plans to meet the new conditions. Should there be little or no warning before attack develops, many Serious difficulties will arise to interfere with mobilisation. Areas of the country suffering from direct nuclear attack may contain, as the noble Earl said, active or reserve units and Reservists needed for the mobilisation of 223 the Forces. Communications, including roads, railways and ports will be severely disrupted, whilst effective central control of the country may be reduced. Ways of lessening the effect of these difficulties are being studied and consideration is being given to mobilisation on a regional basis during the period when control and movement are reduced to a minimum by enemy attack.
The concept of reserve forces ready to take part in large-scale conventional warfare is out of date. In a nuclear war the primary rôle of the reserve army would be to help to maintain the life of the nation and to deal with raids and sabotage. The Territorial Army must continue to be organised as a military force, capable of fighting, but changes in its organisation and training will be necessary. There will, therefore, be available to support the civil authorities the Regular Army formations and units remaining in this country; the bulk of the Territorial Army; and those elements of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force not engaged in, or supporting, the battle.
These are very substantial and very valuable resources; and the Government have been giving much thought to the question of their training and their organisation so that they could make the greatest possible contribution to the Home Defence if war should break out. The training syllabus for the Armed Forces for some years past has included basic instruction in methods of rescue and first aid—two of the most likely tasks to be performed by Armed Forces in the third echelon of Civil Defence. Such instruction is now being extended to cover the additional problems from radioactive fall-out. Considerable numbers of Class "H" Reservists of the Royal Air Force are to undergo specialised training as fire-fighters in order to provide reinforcements for the regular fire-fighting services of the country. All those destined for the Mobile Defence Battalions will receive one month's intensive training in their rôle during whole-time service, and up to twenty days during their part-time service.
Careful studies of the conditions that may be encountered in nuclear warfare and the action to be taken in meeting them are being carried out at the Civil 224 Defence Staff College. Members of the Civil Defence organisations, staff of the public utilities and Government Departments, and officers of the Armed Forces all take part in this. It is hoped that the first major joint exercise in this country, with military headquarters, troops, and regional and local civil authorities, will be held next year.
Then I come to the chain of command. The degree to which Regional Commissioners will have to assume control within their areas will depend directly on where the attack has fallen and its severity. Those areas in which there has been heavy damage, or which find their communications to central Government cut, must be controlled and administered by the Regional Commissioner until more normal conditions can be restored. It is intended to nominate the Regional Commissioners in sufficient time for them to be at their posts when war breaks out, with full powers for the tasks they may have to perform. Each Regional Commissioner will have among his advisers, and in the same joint headquarters, first, the Regional Director of Civil Defence, already appointed to each region in England and in Wales, who will have planned and trained his Civil Defence resources during peace for their tasks in war; secondly, the Army District Commander, who also exists in peace time, and who will have trained his forces jointly with the regional civil authorities for tasks in war. Naval and Air Force liaison officers with full knowledge of the Service manpower and equipment available within the regional area will be attached to the joint headquarters in war.
Civil or military staffs for communications, transport and administration will be provided and, as your Lordships know, for the most part the civil regional boundaries coincide almost identically with those of the Army districts. The Regional Commissioner will be in charge, but will have alongside him his military and civil advisers to control their resources within his area. It should be possible for the central Government to continue to control and issue policy decisions, but the extent to which this is practicable will obviously depend upon the degree of damage to communications and upon the degree of information received. The rôle of the central Government will be to co-ordinate and adjust 225 the resources available to the country between the regions—for example, restoring communications and transport and reinforcing the worst damaged regions from those not so seriously affected.
On the Service side, the overall control will be exercised by the Commanders-in-Chief Committee, who will be in close touch with civil authorities and with the central Government. The Armed Forces are in no sense a substitute for civil administration, and the aim will be to support the normal administration by all possible means and to make the fullest use of surviving civilians and resources. It will be one of the first tasks of the Commander-in-Chief, U.K. Land Forces, on appointment, to examine, in conjunction with the civil authorities, the ways in which the Armed Forces can best assist the civil authorities, and to make plans accordingly.
The re-modelling of our defence organisation to meet the new conception of warfare is a gigantic task. Much planning, much research, and much hard work is necessary. It is essential, if we are to survive in any future war, that we find the correct solution. Sometimes, as we imagine the destruction and misery which a nuclear war would bring on this and other countries, we are filled with a feeling of horror that men could be so foolish as to contemplate it. But though we may be filled with horror, we in this country are certainly not filled with despair. Though the difficulties of Home Defence may be enormous, the Government will do its best to make it sound and practicable, and I hope from what I have said this afternoon, your Lordships will agree that we are proceeding soundly and sensibly and doing the right things in the right way.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ LORD LAWSON
My Lords, I think your Lordships will agree, in view of the statement we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that my noble friend has rendered a service to the House in raising this subject this afternoon. I listened with great interest to the noble Lord who told us what the plans of the Government are said to be and informed us that next year there are going to be exercises on a large scale in Civil Defence. I think that is what the noble Lord said. But, as one who had something to do with Civil Defence in 226 the last war, I have been deeply concerned at the almost total lack of interest in this subject in the country. That lack of interest has been reflected in the silence of the Government upon the subject. What has struck me much more is the lack of conviction that anything at all could be done about it. To some extent the noble Lord's statement reflects that temper to-day.
We are told that the defence forces are to be co-ordinated with a view to helping in the event of an attack upon this country. Co-ordination is a useful word, but it is also a dangerous word, and it sometimes covers a multitude of sins. As to the Civil Defence forces that are available at the present time, we have not been told much by the noble Lord who has just spoken. I was glad to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, is to speak later on. He may be able to tell us the number of volunteers for Civil Defence, what exercises are being held, and where troops have at any time been co-ordinating in those exercises. As soon as war comes, if unfortunately it ever does come again, inevitably the civilian organisations will be driven to co-operate with the Service organisations. I cannot see how the Territorials in peace time can take steps to co-operate with the civil forces of Civil Defence, because it is very difficult in the present circumstances, apart from the National Servicemen, to get men to volunteer for the Territorial organisation. When they do, the short time they can spare from their ordinary employments and avocations to do the normal exercises of the Territorial organisation makes it difficult, in peace time at any rate, to co-operate with the Civil Defence forces. The consequence is that we are compelled to depend upon the actual existing Civil Defence forces for exercises and for a knowledge of the job that has to be done.
I have heard a good deal about the lire services and about the Air Force (I think it is) being used for fire service purposes. We seem to forget that the splendid rational organisation of fire services in this country as it is to-day was born of the experience of the last war. Some of us had the pain of seeing how insufficient the fire services were in the early stages of the war and how they had to be built up and strengthened. Out of them has come a great national fire service. That, as I say, was born of 227 experience during the war and during the operations of the Civil Defence organisation. I should have thought that some steps would be taken to co-ordinate, if there had to be co-ordination, the national fire services, so that somebody would be ready, when the call came, to give guidance and so that they would have some knowledge of the services that were likely to be needed.
I am pleased that the Government have made up their minds about the appointment of the Commissioners for Civil Defence. The noble Lord's statement is about the first statement that has been made about that; at any rate, I have not heard it before. The Civil Defence Commissioners ought to know their respective areas, too, because those of us who have been engaged in this business, and particularly when we have been remote from the centre, have seen how greatly dependent the civil organisation soon came to be upon the military, air and naval defence forces.
It would be unfair to say of those who are serving, who have volunteered in the country and who are doing splendid work, that nothing is being done; but it would be right to say that there is not the slightest sense abroad in the country of the need for building up the Civil Defence organisation. A few weeks ago I saw a large exercise that was very well done indeed. The Government stand on the brink and all the experts say: "Well, what can we do?" If in one part of the country there has been a refusal to face these facts and to do anything about Civil Defence, I say that the inaction of the Government themselves has been responsible for a situation like that. It is foolish because even those who say: "We will do nothing about it; we can do nothing about it," would be the first to give their services if ever the call came.
It is true that there are very fine men and women up and down this country who are giving their time, attending lectures and trying to understand and visualise something of what might happen, the call that would be made upon them and the kind of thing that could be done. It is most important that the Government should concentrate upon the volunteers for the Civil Defence forces. In the main, of course, the only exercises they can do—and I must say that I watched 228 them recently—are those with a view to keeping the troops on their toes. The training of a soldier, an airman or a sailor sometimes seems stupid to people who stand on the outer ring and watch it, but everybody knows it is fitting them for the job, physically and mentally, and that it is necessary to keep them at it in order that the man or the officer will be ready for his job when the time comes. So far as I can see, pretty much the same exercises are being practised now, although more efficiently, as were practised before the last war. It is a question of going through the ordinary routine to keep men and women on their toes.
But the main thing is that the Government should not only manifest interest in this matter but should show to the country that they are deeply concerned about the need for men and women who will be ready to give their services if unfortunately that call should come. There are men and women who are giving their spare time freely. This country has a splendid spirit of service, operating to a greater extent than most people know—a many-sided service, freely given by splendid men and women in the spare time they have at their disposal from their work. I am sure that, if the Government could manifest sufficient interest in the matter and really show that they meant business, if the call had to go out the men and women would be there.
I must tell your Lordships frankly that I do not think you will get this from the Home Office. It is no reflection upon the Home Secretary: but is it not a fact that the Home Office has gradually come to be considered the kind of department upon which you dump some organisation that you do not know what to do with? It is true that the Home Office had experience in the last war. I am not making any personal reflections upon the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft—
§ LORD LAWSON
He certainly does not look that type, at any rate. But it is a fact that over the greater part of a century we have formed the habit of dumping on the Home Office any organisation that we did not know what to do with. The Home Office, of course, has experience from the last war. But I think 229 the Government are doing right in deciding to appoint a civilian organisation—I do not know whether it is to be at an early date or before any war comes. I think that that is what was said about the Civil Commissioners. It is not a matter of explaining what the atom bomb will do, or how wide will be its range of destruction, or even what immediate steps are to be taken for safety purposes. I have my own views. I think that we shall have to get underground. If anything is to be done to save particularly young life and the women, I think that deep subterranean passages will have to be built, though there is always the danger of wanting to stay there once you get there. I am sure that if the Government make their appeal and show that they are really concerned about this matter there will be a better response. I think that there is a lack of conviction about the appeals of the Government. If they make a convincing appeal I am sure that plenty of citizens in this country would give their time and their services, when they are told just what they can do.
It is a good thing that this debate has been held to-day, because we have had the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the debate will show just how much the Government intend to do and what they intend not to do. Like most noble Lords here, I have been in public life nearly all my life. I thought I knew something about this country, but I may say that in recent years the thing that has astounded me has been the multitudinous number of organisations formed by men and women, who give their services freely and who are ready to give their services if they are called upon I am sure that my noble friend and members of this House will agree that we wish we had not to talk about these things. We pray that there may never be any need for this organisation. But if there is need, whether in regard to fire or flood (because flood can be envisaged, too), or death or disaster, then the men and women who are needed for that purpose ought to be trained.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, I too should like to express my regret that the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has been unable to be here to move the Motion which stands in his name. May I add my wishes for his speedy recovery, and 230 say how glad I was fiat the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, was able to address us on a subject on which he is well qualified to speak? In the course of his speech the noble Earl said that there had been no lead from the Government. If he had amplified that and had said that there had been no lead from any of Her Majesty's Governments from 1945 until recently, I should have agreed with him.
ram certain that Home Defence, in all its aspects, has been in a fairly sorry mess since the end of the war, and so far as I can see (I speak from such slight experience of these matters as I had in the last war) that has been because there was what might almost have been called a conspiracy in ignoring every possible lesson of the war. It is not merely that we ignored the lessons of Hiroshima—though the atom bomb is a dwarf compared to the thermo-nuclear bomb. At the same time, I have never held the view that we were justified in waiting, after the lessons of Hiroshima, to see what the thermo-nuclear bomb produced, because in regard to many aspects of Home Defence the lessons of Hiroshima were a perfectly good signpost to the lessons which we are being taught by the thermo-nuclear bomb. But it was not merely the lesson of the atom bomb which was disregarded; there were all sorts of minor administrative and humdrum lessons which were disregarded at the same time. There were any number of lessons to be learned in matters of control of manpower and liaison, of communications, and of flexibility of control in command of those national forces necessary to deal with the various kinds of emergency with which we are likely to be faced.
This question of command was mentioned by Lord Lucan, and I feel that it is one of the problems which needs most urgent study. I almost agreed with what he said about taking care that civilians were in ultimate control. I do not feel so worried as he does because, thinking back quickly, I cannot remember any instances in history since Cromwell's Major-Generals, when the civilians were not ultimately in control of this country, certainly in regard to Home Defence, never mind who is in control of operations overseas. I think the real answer (I believe Lord Lucan was really thinking of this as well) is to have properly integrated staffs—that is to say, staffs in 231 control of the different echelons, containing staff officers of different varieties and representing different services, very much on the lines of the sort of staff that General Eisenhower created at S.H.A.E.F., without its being necessary to dress up administrative and transportation experts in the uniform of a full colonel. There I entirely agree with what has been said from the other side.
However that may be, the time has now come when the thermo-nuclear bomb has forced common sense on us; and in my humble opinion we are now, for the first time, beginning to prepare for the sort of war that we are bound to expect and not for the sort of war which would suit Government Departments. There is no need for them to wait any longer for anything. I was delighted to hear what my noble friend Lord Carrington said. It was the first indication that I have seen for a long time that anything was likely to happen on the Home Defence front. One major point strikes me clearly—namely, that it will be quite hopeless to expect any real or worthwhile progress unless at the same time there is to be progress in establishing a greater measure of overall control at Ministry of Defence level.
I know that my noble friend Lord Swinton has put down a Motion for debate next week, and as we shall discuss the Fighting Services then, I do not propose to go any further in that direction to-day—and I am sure that no one in your Lordships' House would wish me to do so. But when we listen to what my noble friend Lord Swinton says we should have in our mind the ways in which his proposals, whatever they may be, can be applied to Home Defence; and, equally, we must consider Home Defence against the background of the overall control of defence as the main problem. It was certainly a good thing that the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, decided to put down a Motion on Home Defence and not on one of the particular aspects of Home Defence, such as Civil Defence or the Home Guard. As the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, said, there is a good deal of confusion, and that confusion will continue if people try to differentiate between different kinds of Home Defence, instead of looking at Home Defence as one problem and one operation of war. I thought that the Labour Party pamphlet on Civil 232 Defence had a great deal to commend it. If I said that I agreed with it more than I have ever agreed with any publication of their Party perhaps that would not be saying very much; but if I put it in another way and say I hope that the objective view which that pamphlet takes of a number of Civil Defence subjects may commend itself to the rank and file of that Party, as well as to other people, perhaps that will mean more. At any rate, that is my view.
I come now to some of the relatively minor points, some of those things which I believe are causing, and have caused, hold-ups in Civil Defence for the last ten years. A good deal of trouble on the Civil Defence side has been caused by the failure of those planning Civil Defence to give proper value to the leadership factor or to give proper powers to leaders. A great deal of the frustration and minor trouble and uncertainty that has arisen has been due to this sort of failure in regard to the leadership factor, either deliberate or accidental. If one finds that there are gaps in the Civil Defence service in what ought to be the national pattern of rescue or welfare services, one of the reasons is that there is no real machinery whereby one can get over the rather unenterprising or backwoods rural districts—and there are other inhabitants of backwoods besides your Lordships. There is no machinery by which one can get an apathetic minor local authority to get on with the job, and there is certainly no machinery whereby, even if they want to, they can appoint leaders who will get on with the job and bear the same measure of responsibility for dealing with local Civil Defence services as the commander of a Territorial or Supplementary Reserve unit bears for the command and administration of his unit.
This applies equally to the Wardens' Service. The appointment of wardens is entirely in the hands of the local chief constable. I am not suggesting that anything has gone wrong, but I do not think that is a very satisfactory piece of machinery because one ought not to be dependent on the particular attitude that any one man may take on a particular problem. For this purpose a chief constable is entirely independent of the Standing Joint Committee, so far as I know. I have no particular case in mind where this arrangement has gone wrong, 233 but I say that this is not the kind of machinery that is calculated to produce the best results. Then we have the Regional Directors, who have recently been appointed. I consider that their appointment is a welcome and advantageous step, and in all cases where I have personal knowledge of the people appointed I would say that they are thoroughly good and that the best results can be expected from them. But if one is going to appoint Regional Directors and expect good results, one should take care to see that it is possible for them to direct somebody or something. I am not quite sure how far that problem has been tackled, and I hope that it will be looked at again. I am quite certain that, at some time or other, the Civil Defence Staff College must have had exercises in connection with those problems and must have got down to them; therefore I would think that a solution exists, if only on paper.
May I turn for a moment to mobile Civil Defence and the forty-eight battalions of the Supplementary Reserve which my noble friend, Lord Carrington mentioned. Here, I fear, I shall again be slightly critical. I am bound to say, as I have said before, that I believe the decision to disband territorial A.A. units without making use of them for building the forty-eight mobile defence units was a most serious and ill-starred decision to take. I believe that it lost us a great deal of good will, and I also believe, from such experience as I have, that no Supplementary Reserve unit of that size can reach efficiency unless it has an out-of-camp life and existence and the backing of the county association. We have been told that it was pure coincidence that disbandment of the A.A. and the decision to form these Supplementary Reserve battalions came at the same time. Even so, it makes no difference: one does not throw away an asset, for whatever reason, if one can possibly make use of it, as I am certain could have been done on this occasion. Even now, I do not think it is too late to make alterations in the scheme and to bring in the Territorial associations—whether or not the name of units is changed to the Supplementary Reserve I do not mind.
I suggest that if some alterations are made on the lines I have suggested an immense and immediate improvement will 234 be found. A great deal of morale can be got back and a great deal of support can be given to these battalions. Support which they are not getting now they would be able to get under a proper system. Let us not forget the county associations. If my memory serves me right (and I think it does) these associations were designed by Lord Haldane partly to act as a link between the local military authority and the county council or other local authority. What better task could there be for the associations than this, where liaison between the military and the local authority must be developed to the greatest possible extent?
We are still in a certain amount of confusion, too, over the Territorial Army itself. I am not blaming anyone for that, because one knows that this is a problem which is connected not only with Home Defence but with N.A.T.O. requirements; and it has not been easy to find a solution. But at the moment, unless I am wrong, we have a certain number of T.A. divisions committed as part of the N.A.T.O. forces. Having read the lecture of the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Montgomery, at the Royal United Services institution recently, I am not quite sure how much importance he attaches to the inclusion of T.A. or, indeed, whether he is reasonably certain that those T.A. formations will be there in their proper place when the time comes.
I confess that I myself am not really certain, even supposing that the equipment for those divisions was already in the place where it was wanted, whether they could be got overseas. But I cannot go so far as the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who considered it out of the question that T.A. formations should be sent overseas in a future war. I certainly think they should be. It would be a great pity if we broke up the divisional organisation of the T.A. to meet the needs of Home Defence; because whereas a T.A. division, as a division, can help with Home Defence or support Civil Defence while organised as a division, and if the opportunity offers can go overseas, the converse is not the case. So I hope that so long as there is any possibility of using T.A. formations overseas we shall keep the T.A. organised in field formations.
When we come to the Home Guard I am afraid that uncertainty gets even 235 greater. I hope that before long we shall be told what is to be the rôle of the Home Guard under present conditions of thermo-nuclear warfare. Are they to guard vulnerable points? Are they to deal with sabotage? I would say here that I think the problem of anti-sabotage has been a good deal underplayed; I believe it to be quite a sizeable threat. Can we treat the problem of shooting a saboteur in isolation from the problems of the Wardens' Service in scattered districts? I doubt it. I am not going to say anything about the National Fire Service or the National Hospital Service Reserve because I believe the problems that exist there are relatively minor. I think I am right in saying that plans exist to exercise national control over fire services in war-time, and that the only trouble with regard to the National Hospital Service Reserve is the general uncertainty. This brings me once again to the question of manpower. I am afraid I have done it often in this House, but I again press for some Government measure whereby the Minister of Labour takes control of part-time manpower as he did in the war, and Departments which wish to employ part-time manpower in Home Defence make their bids to him and he judges upon them, subject to advice he gets from the Minister of Defence or indeed, from the Cabinet itself
Lord Carrington said a good deal about the present shelter policy, and I agree with him in what he said. After all, any widespread policy of shelters will divert an immense amount of steel, cement and labour at a time when we can ill spare it from the social jobs and the export jobs for which we now need it. Here is a case such as one often finds when dealing with an operation of war where it may be necessary to take a calculated risk. And if we are going to take a calculated risk in not implementing a widespread and expensive policy of shelters, I, for one, would agree with that. But implementing a widespread policy is one thing, and research and planning is quite another. I think that, whether or not the Government's present shelter policy includes the implementation of a widespread policy of making shelters at the present time, it certainly should include a determined policy of improving essential things that are going to be 236 wanted in any case—communications, research, the testing of prototypes and all the other things which Lord Carrington mentioned, such as protection of ports which we cannot do without and which cannot be improvised in the way that deep shelters often can be.
My Lords, I do not want to keep you any longer. I would end by saying, once again, let us look at this matter objectively and plan for the war we want to prevent. If we do so—and this, I think, has already been said by Lord Lawson—all those engaged in Home Defence, or whom we want to be engaged in Home Defence, will begin to understand and will, therefore, co-operate in a way which they have not done in the past—and I do not blame them. Lord Lawson said, in effect, if not in so many words: "If the people do not understand, how can you expect them to play?", and I entirely agree with him. And I would add one thing. I hope that in the plans that are going to be made the secrecy fiends will not be allowed to keep the upper hand. Of course, one wants to have certain secrets. But in the matter of secrecy for security reasons, the best is always the enemy of the good. Here, again, if the Government want to take a calculated risk, then let them take the risk of telling the people perhaps more than strict secrecy officers would want them to know. If you do that you will get increased co-operation from all sections of the community.
It was good to hear from Lord Carrington that he and Lord Mancroft are not confused, uncertain or undecided. I am sure, therefore, that their colleagues are not, and I hope that their attitude will have the same effect on the officials who advise them. I wish them a lot of practice in blowing their trumpets with no uncertain sound, and I can assure them that if they do that the country will soon begin to prepare for the battle. In fact, sooner than some people expect.
§ 4.8 p.m.
My Lords, as so often happens in your Lordships' House, a speaker has to follow another who has already spoken on certain subjects upon which he would wish to speak. As most of your Lordships know, I am particularly concerned with the Home Guard, and my noble friend who has just sat down has touched on it. I believe that the Home Guard embodies the spirit, as the noble 237 Lord, Lord Lawson said, of all the workers in voluntary services in this country. Members of the Home Guard do not consider that they are at this moment a fighting force. What they do consider is that they are going to be ready to train others who will go along with them when they are needed, and, to my mind, that is one of their most important functions—training people to be ready to take their part. I am certain that all members of all voluntary services—I know more about the Home Guard than about what are called Civil Defence services, which I think we are going to call the Home Service forces, with whom we work extremely closely—are willing to take their part.
But I believe that the nation as a whole—as stated by previous speakers—does not realise how important it is to have a cadre and a teaching system for voluntary workers. Voluntary workers are very important indeed, and they can do a lot of work when and if any emergency arises. One has been told that in an emergency a third force is desperately important to keep the home front going. What does that mean? It really means a great deal. It means keeping the factories going and transport services running so that people are able to get to the factories. These are all jobs which the voluntary service can do and which I believe are most important. I should like to acid here that nothing like this could possibly be done by the Home Guard without the assistance which has always been so willingly given by the Regular Army and Territorial Army to Home Guard associations and units. We are very grateful for that.
I would ask Her Majesty's Government to consider the psychological point of view of members of the Home Guard and Civil Defence who are willing to give up their time to do drills, attend lectures and train themselves. We must give them something; and from the Home Guard point of view that something is the weapons they will be called upon to use in time of emergency. We have some good weapons, not ultra-modern ones, but modern enough. I heard only the other day that we are going to get wireless sets instead of having to signal by flag across London—a subject I have mentioned before in your Lordships' House. We must give the men and women in Home Defence a chance of 238 using modern weapons, because they enjoy that.
Any member of the Home Guard, and possibly any Member of your Lordships' House, who fires a two-inch mortar and is given a high explosive bomb which goes off with a great "Boomph" and lands down at the other end—so long as there is no wind and it does not land in the opposite direction or on top of his head—can go back to his family or to the local "pub" feeling he is a terrific chap, letting off a two-inch mortar and the bomb going off with a "crump." We have discussed before the idea that if fie were not allowed to use the real thing it would be just as good. But it does not mean the same thing. We are all like schoolboys in some ways. If you give a schoolboy a modern train to play with, what happens is that you probably play with it yourself and he never gets a chance. It is the same with grown-up people. If we give them the weapons which they know and the proper ammunition and facilities for training, they will always come along. The other side, the Civil Defence and Home Guard social clubs, is very important. After training people can all get together in a social club, something which in many cases they would not be able to afford. To my mind, this is really important.
The total cost of the Home Guard is about £1,300,000, for 37,000 people. If we take that out of the total defence cost, it seems almost a fleabite. I know that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is trying to cut down on all expenditure, but I believe that this expenditure is worth while. As I have said to your Lordships before, we all know that people will come along on the day; but if that day comes quickly, as it might do, then we should not have a trained personnel. I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Carrington has given us so much encouragement. If given encouragement and directive, then these voluntary workers will go on, and they will form the basis of a force which, if needed, will be ready. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give encouragement to Civil Defence workers and the Home Guard.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I wish to ask the Government to reply as definitely as possible about the way in which they propose to tackle certain 239 immediate problems which will come, not with the outbreak of war, but with the threat of war. The first question is one which has been asked by everyone who has had anything to do with Civil Defence. In the event of a future war there must be a large dispersal of population all over the country. To allow any large number of people to remain in great cities like London and Manchester or in any of the industrial towns in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, is simply inviting destruction, because one of the aims of any attack would be to disable us within the shortest possible time. And the time from the beginning of attack until the end might not be a question of weeks or days; it might be a question of hours, if that. The Hiroshima attack was rapid, and any attack by atomic weapons is bound to be quick in its effects. I hope that our Intelligence is so good that we shall warn ourselves—nobody else will—of any impending attack. I hope the Government will be able to say what plans they have for the dispersal of the population over the country. It is no use leaving a plan of this kind until a war has begun.
What is going to be the chain of command? Communications will very likely be broken, and what method is to be adopted to replace the normal telegraphic and telephonic communications? We must lay down a chain of command, and we must give it the means of giving the command. It will be necessary to plan dispersal, as I have already said. The big towns and many small towns will be uninhabitable. This means organisation in every town, city, and, indeed, large business establishment to ensure the possibility of what was called prior to the last war evacuation—which, incidentally, was very successful—and which is now referred to as dispersion. It will be essential to have that over a large part of the country.
What is to happen to doctors and local government representatives? You badly need doctors when you are being severely attacked. How are they to be given definite duties; and what is their training to be? Then there is the difficult question—and I hope the Government speaker will be able to assist us with information on this matter—of how we are to maintain some places, which will have to be at great depth underground, so that 240 observers can remain in cities if they are destroyed. It is not easy to contemplate the conditions under which such people will have to live. Those are some of the questions which I believe need answering. I am speaking like this, because I know from my own experience when lecturing on this subject, which used to be called "air raid precautions," the kind of questions anyone giving instruction will be asked. I want to know the answers to those questions, and, if I get them, I shall then be glad to do more instruction in the future.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT LONG
My Lords, I do not intend to keep your Lordships for more than a few minutes, but, as your Lordships know, I have for many years had the honour to be closely connected with the Territorial Army. I was glad to note what my noble friend Lord Carrington had to say about the Territorial Army. I do not want to go into too much detail, but my noble friend Lord Bridgeman raised a point—it came out also in the speech of my noble friend Lord Carrington—about these twenty-five battalions. We want every volunteer we can get, and it appears to me that Her Majesty's Government have taken away a great deal of our ammunition for getting volunteers by doing away with some of the oldest Territorial Regiments, those with great traditions in this country, which I should have thought could have been maintained under the new system of mobile columns or regiments. Apparently that was not to be.
The regiment of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, the Royal Fusiliers, which had great traditions, although it was a gunner regiment in A.A. Command, has gone. The Hampshire Yeomanry, which was commanded by that great statesman and soldier the late Lord Mottistone, has gone, too. That is a great pity, especially since many of these regiments were based on centres where volunteers are now being called for. Eight years have passed, but in my opinion we are now back in 1948 and have an added burden and responsibility, inasmuch as some of our volunteers have already been taken by the Government for the twenty-five mobile battalions for Civil Defence. What is the rôle of these other regiments to be? We hear of the regiments within the Territorial divisions that may have to 241 go abroad. I do not want to deal with that matter in my speech, because more than one noble Lord has raised the problem of how those divisions are to be transported. What is to be the rôle of these other organisations? Not far from me is a distinguished regiment: two-thirds of it carry out one rôle, and the other third carries out a totally different rôle. I was talking to the adjutant of this regiment over the week-end, and he knows no more than anybody else about the future.
The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, will remember the great difficulty we had in getting volunteers to start us off again in 1948 and 1949. I do not think your Lordships, or anyone else, could accuse those of us who were then interested, and still are, in the Territorial Army of not playing our part up to the limit of human endurance: to be pulled clown and howled down in uniform, as I was, at a certain big stadium by 8,000 people when I was recruiting, and to get a wet mop in your face from the mother of a boy you particularly wanted to join up, though vastly different experiences, were both far from pleasant. However, we are back where we were, and that leads me to ask a question. The National Servicemen who completed their term and drills this last summer will now have left the regiment. From a regiment of, say, 460 men who went out for training last year, there will probably be fewer than 100 who will be able to take the field next year. That is not an isolated case; owing to the new plan and scheme of Her Majesty's Government it must be general. How is it proposed to increase those numbers over the next two years? There will be a dribble, I suppose, of a few National Servicemen. I believe that the new scheme was necessary, but from our point of view in the Territorial Army it was unfortunate. The National Serviceman who had been encouraged to take on his obligations as a volunteer has gone. So we not only lose the three years of the National Serviceman, but we have lost these men who have elected to go back into National Service in order to get out of it. How is it hoped to increase the numbers of these regiments under those conditions? I point this out merely because these are conditions which have been pointed out to me by commanding officers and adjutants within the last five weeks.
242 Then we come to the cost of this very costly Territorial Army now. In each unit to-day there are no fewer than four or five, if not six, Regular officers and warrant officers drawing large sums of money to train the men. When you have 600 to 700 men that is all right; but when you have only 100, do the Government not think that a good deal of money would be saved if those excellent officers and warrant officers were sent back to their own regiments to train the National Servicemen? I put that suggestion forward because I think it is an important point from the point of view of administration.
I should like to put this further point. I do not know how these circumstances have arisen, but one particular unit is based in a big city in the West of England, and between fifteen and twenty men living in that city are taken fifty to sixty miles away to Cardiff to do their annual training, whereas exactly the same form of training takes place in that city. The cost of taking those men by rail falls upon the country. Another fifteen or twenty men to bring up the strength are brought from another eighty to 100 miles away. If the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, wants to know the name of that unit and the full details, I shall be only too delighted to give them to him. I have mentioned the case in all sincerity, and I do not know that the noble Lord, or even the Minister, knows anything about it at all.
Lastly, may I come to the question of camps. I know that this is only a small detail, but the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, who I am sorry cannot be here to-day, will remember that in 1947 we were given a definite undertaking that all that could be done would be done to see that the cooking arrangements were right for the troops. I will speak about only one camp, although I could give plenty of examples. I do not want to exaggerate, because we all know that "Tommy Atkins" and the Territorial Army have a right to air a grievance if they want to. During a hot summer there was a tin cook-house at Windmill Camp. I know that camp very well. I have manœuvred all round it, and have also camped there. Although this is a permanent Territorial camp, no effort has ever been made to spend a little money on seeing that the kitchen and cook-house were properly established, with the result that not only 243 was it impossible for the cooks to cook the food but before it even reached the troops it was two-thirds "overseas" and had to be destroyed.
Those are small details of instances where I think an improvement in the situation can be made. I ask, once again, that the question I have raised about the arrangements should be gone into. As my noble friend Lord Bridgeman truly said, it is not too late to reinstate these regiments in their original position and under the Territorial Association; and if that were done I believe that it would provide us with the ammunition once again to go forward and do our utmost to see that Her Majesty's Government's scheme is a success.
§ 4.33 p.m.
THE EARL OF LIMERICK
My Lords, may I first add a word of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, in his absence, for raising this subject at so opportune a moment. I regret that he cannot be here. The time, of course, is opportune because it is one of change, which is incessant. It is expected to be incessant, and it is quite essential that it should be so. Anybody who remembers only the past is, of course, quite unfitted to conceive the future, and the past now, with the rapidity of change in technical achievement, dies far more quickly than ever before in history. I hope that in a very short time—perhaps not to-night—Her Majesty's Government will be able to lighten in our minds many places which at the moment are rather obscure. I think most of us appreciate the colossal difficulties of thought, of planning and of reorganisation which precede any pronouncement, and most of us will even hope that it will not be thought right to hold against the Government at any time any pronouncement as being a definite pronouncement, but that it will be held to be an interim stage in a constant growth. Although, therefore, I am not in agreement, as I will explain, with all that has been done in the recent past, yet I feel at the same time only too grateful that it does not fall upon my shoulders to try to be wise at this particular time.
As this wide field has been so admirably covered this evening by many noble Lords, I propose to concern myself only with the Territorial Army, with which many of your Lordships and I 244 have been connected for a good many years; and, in particular, I am going to put in a special plea for the maximum integration of civil and military effort and experience through consultation. That sounds rather trite. Most of us will think "That has been part of the set-up for years." My noble friend Lord Bridgeman referred to it, and, indeed, it was the great Lord Haldane, in his 1908 Act for what was then the Territorial Force, who foresaw and provided for that consultation. It was stressed by the former Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, in 1919, and it was mentioned in your Lordships' House not long ago, in March, 1951, by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. So there is nothing fresh in that principle, nor is there any point about it which may at first sight seem worth stressing just now. But, as I shall hope to show a little later on, I am not satisfied that in the recent changes that principle has been used to the full and in a way which could to the utmost have kept the country reasonably informed on forthcoming changes; nor am I satisfied that those changes have taken place after the necessary consultation with those on the civil side who, by reason of their incessant personal touch with every aspect of civilian effort, are thought best able to advise the Service Ministers through the appropriate channels.
Command Paper 9608, in paragraph 3, refers to the changing rôle of the National Service men. The Command Paper is indeed about National Service. With your Lordships' permission, I will read four lines of paragraph 20. That says:These decisions do not in any way detract from the essential part which the reserve and auxiliary forces will be called upon to play in the event of a nuclear war. Their training may need to be modified but will continue to be important. It will offer full scope for voluntary service.Both those paragraphs imply the maximum co-operation with and help from the civil side, and the insistence on voluntary service, which many noble Lords have touched upon this evening, stresses the duty which is laid by statute on County Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations in respect of recruiting.
This aspect has an importance which in the future it will be difficult to exaggerate. But, by reason of the period of national service, that duty has been 245 rather cloaked and it may be that not all of us on the civil side—at any rate, all of us who have no experience from years before the National Service Act—are fully aware of our incessant duties for recruiting. They are and will become very important and, with respect, I suggest that nowhere is it possible to find instruments so well accustomed and so well suited to marry up the good will and the efforts of civil and military—if indeed there is much cleavage now—as the bodies set up by Statute for that purpose, the County Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association.
We know that peace and war are now relative terms, but, in the past and in the old definition of "peace," experience has taught us that we could count on approximately 140,000 volunteers as being the strength of the old Territorial Army. If I had been asked my opinion, as I was quite a few years ago, as to whether that was a safe figure to bet on, I should have still said "Yes." If I were asked now, I would say: "That is much more difficult to answer. I do not know the answer." Conditions have been so proloundly modified by all the changing and incessant needs of Home Defence which, though equally important, is less alluring to ardent young spirits and which, as at present organised, has no equal attraction of organised life—if you like, the aspect of club life and so forth. It is more on an A.E.R. basis than on a T.A. basis, and I for one regret that. So although I feel this great doubt and could not answer now with any certainty, the question which was put to me a few years ago, it is right to add that, whatever the organisation of the future, one thing is sure from our civil side, and that is that the country can always rely on the maximum co-operation from the county associations and on advice tendered in a co-operative spirit and with the best good will. They are instruments which have stood the test of time and have shown their public worth. They are the cheapest instruments that the public can use, and I trust that, as my noble friend Lord Bridgeman remarked, it is not too late now to reconsider the organisation of those forty-eight units of the Mobile Defence Corps so that they may have the chance of a corporate life and of the close link with civil activities through associations which they used to enjoy in their old rôles.
246 I know, of course, that this is no easy question. Many Ministries are involved in Home Defence. But at the same time I was struck by the remark of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan (from whose distinguished father, I might add in parenthesis, I learned a great deal of my Territorial work) that in a nuclear war a great many of these Ministries might quickly cease to exist. I am wondering whether it would not be fair to raise the picture of a lot of broken eggs but no recognisable or edible omelette. Now we want a conception of the organisation of these units, whether they concern our associations or not, to which we can turn and with which we can co-operate. It is not possible for us, with all the good will in the world, to co-operate with six or more Government Departments.
Summarising these remarks, I would say that my plea, therefore, is for maximum consultation between military and civil effort at an early stage. That implies a high degree of confidence between Service Ministries and the appropriate advisory bodies on the civil side which sit in the War Office and the Air Ministry. If I may add a purely personal opinion—and it is a very strong one—it is that in order that those advisory bodies may pass their mixed views (for they are bound to be mixed occasionally) in a balanced form to the appropriate Minister, those committees should be under the chairmanship of the appropriate Under-Secretaries of State. They used to be. Finally I remember—or I do not quite remember; I only think—that it was Clemenceau who remarked:War is too serious for soldiers to meddle with.I have far too many friends among soldiers and I have far too great a respect for their physical powers to associate myself quite fully with that statement; but I would add that in modern conditions that can remain true if one adds some such words as "unless with the full knowledge and support of civil representatives."
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, this has been an interesting and helpful, though not perhaps a very jolly, debate. I, too, much regret the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, and the reason for it. I am grateful to him for having given me notice of one or two points that he would have raised, all of which have 247 been mentioned by noble Lords speaking in this debate. I think the debate, if it has shown nothing else, has shown one point perfectly clearly. We are now perfectly clear in our minds what are the three courses open to us who are considering the problems of Home and Civil Defence.
The first course is that we do nothing. We say when we speak of war: "It may never come: this horror may never be upon us." Or "If it does come, it will be too great a disaster for us to cope with," so we adopt a defeatist attitude, throw up our hands and let fate take its course. I think it is now perfectly clear to everybody that that policy is wholly unacceptable, both to the country and to the Government. It is out of the question politically, militarily and morally. I believe that noble Lords opposite share this view with equal strength—indeed, their pamphlet, to which several noble Lords opposite have referred, takes this view, and the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, endorsed it in the course of his interesting speech. That is the first course.
The second course is that we exist in a state of advanced preparedness, a sort of constant tenth or eleventh hour state of readiness, with our finger always on the shelter door. I think we agree that the burden and cost of that would be out of proportion and quite impossible for a country in our condition. So we come to the third course which is the course which the Government are seeking to adopt—that is, to attempt to steer a realistic middle course between hysteria and inertia. That is the course which the Government have been trying, with all the conviction in their power, for the last two or three years to bring earnestly to the attention of the people of this country. I would repudiate at once any suggestion that the Government have been lacking in conviction or in energy in the way they have attempted to awaken the people of this country to the facts and to the courses open to them. Their attitude is elaborated in paragraph 101 of the Statement on Defence, 1955. Perhaps I may just remind your Lordships what that paragraph says:Home defence measures, by demonstrating the country's determination to resist aggression in all its forms, buttress the resolution needed to sustain an effective deterrent policy. Against the thermo-nuclear attack of the future the best defence of the civil population in this 248 small, crowded and vulnerable island is to try to ensure that it never materialises. But we must also in common prudence continue to provide financial and other resources for a measure of insurance in case we should fail in our main aim of averting war.It is with some of those measures of insurance that I should like to deal, and in so doing I will try to answer some of the many questions that have been put to me in the course of this debate.
I should like to agree straightaway with the remarks of my noble friend Lord Limerick, to whose speech we have just listened with interest, when, broadly, he said that some of these problems have no final solution. We are trying to work out what can be done to meet the likely effect of weapons that might be used against us, and we are trying to decide what proportion of the national resources can be allocated to meet this threat. It is easy enough in all conscience to talk in general terms about this matter; what is much more difficult is to particularise.
That brings us straight up against two problems which I think have been touched on more than any others in the course of this debate—the problems of dispersal and shelter. It was the theme of much of what the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and the noble Lord. Lord Haden-Guest, had to say—and quite naturally so. They would agree, I think, that the question of dispersal, which includes evacuation plans, is fundamental to Civil Defence—indeed, to all Home Defence plans. It differs from many other aspects of Civil Defence in that until it had actually to be put into operation the working out of a scheme of evacuation and dispersal would not involve much expenditure. However, some of your Lordships have pointed out that detailed planning would be required in order to enable a scheme to be put into operation at short notice.
Before we embark on this detailed planning, I am sure the House will agree with me, it is essential that we should be, as in other fields, as certain as we can be that we are on the right lines. If it were now only a question of the well-tried system of limited evacuation of certain priority classes, as we all remember so well in 1939, the way would be clearer, although everybody knows what immense difficulties emerged in practice even with that comparatively limited scheme. But the whole question has had to be looked at afresh in the light of the new forms of attack that we may have to meet. Here 249 we have to plan in terms of millions. We have to make the best estimate we can of the time we might have to carry out the operation and to form a picture of the degree of dislocation to the economy that the nation could stand.
Even in advance of an attack, once this has been done, the gigantic problems of transport and of accommodation have to be faced, as well as those of the machinery that can be relied on to carry out whatever plan was eventually adopted. This is one of the many Civil Defence matters in which, as I say, it is comparatively easy to talk in general terms about the way to organise a scheme, but very difficult to formulate detailed assumptions which are sufficiently safe to warrant going ahead with detailed planning. I can assure the House that progress has been made with the review of this difficult subject which would involve the whole national life in war time. I hope the House will forgive me if I say that I am not yet in a position to tell your Lordships that it is possible to announce the Government's intentions in this matter.
On the question of shelters, which marches with dispersal, I am glad to hear my noble friend Lord Bridgeman express approval of what has so far been the policy. Your Lordships who have spoken on this matter have indicated that the question of shelters, together of course with the question of dispersal, is probably our main basis of survival. As your Lordships realise, the two are interdependent. For instance, there is not much point in putting a larger shelter policy into operation in a certain area only to find later that it is intended to be made an area of evacuation. The two obviously march together.
Many speakers this afternoon have spoken of the problem of the colossal work and expense which might be involved in making a realistic policy. Even with unlimited funds, protection against a direct hit or near-miss from a hydrogen bomb is not really "on." But a great deal can be done. We have also to bear in mind the difficulties of prolonged occupation of shelter habitation in fall-out conditions and that relatively safe areas are no longer immune. It sounds a rather defeatist thing to say; but I must agree with noble Lords who suggest that a hole 250 in the ground is probably the best protection we can think of. We are examining this problem most carefully, but in view of the heavy demands which the programme would entail. I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is essential that we should make up our minds correctly on this and on the question of dispersal. I am sorry—I am being quite frank with your Lordships—that I cannot give a more definite answer. Those of your Lordships who have considered this problem will realise that it is being particularly well thought about, a little more so than have many problems.
Now may I turn to some of the matters which your Lordships have raised and upon which I am able to report more obvious progress. There is the important question of the monitoring system for radioactive fall-out—that is, the more advanced type of warning to which one or two speakers have referred. Steps have now been taken to implement the Government's plans for setting up a national monitoring organisation to give warning and to measure radioactivity in the event of air attack. In June my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced in another place that the Royal Observer Corps, in conjunction with the Home Office Air Raid Warning Organisation, had undertaken this important new function in addition to their existing duties. Since the announcement was made, all full-time officers of the Royal Observer Corps concerned with training have attended special courses of a week's duration at a Home Office Civil Defence School, and on October 3 the training of the Royal Observer Corps in the use of the radiac instruments began. Sufficient instruments for training have been issued, and substantial numbers of post observers will be trained in the use of monitoring instruments during the course of the winter.
In September, the Royal Observer Corps and the Air Raid Warning Organisation held a full-scale trial of reporting procedures, from which valuable lessons have been learnt, and it is proposed to hold further trials next spring. Experiments have also been conducted during this summer to test the efficiency of additional siren signals. Three trials have been held: one in London, which some of your Lordships may have heard and been puzzled by, a second trial at Potter's Bar, and a third at Uckfield. The object 251 of these trials was to test the possibility of obtaining distinctive siren signals which might be used to give warning of the threat of radioactive fall-out. We have not yet had the final results of these experiments, but I am told that they have produced valuable data, not only upon the possibilities of using additional siren signals but on other matters connected with the efficiency of the existing warnings. I hope your Lordships will agree that good progress has been made in a short time, both in regard to the setting up of a monitoring organisation and the means by which the public can be warned of this new threat.
My Lords, I turn now to a subject touched upon by several noble Lords, notably by Lord Lawson and Lord Bridgeman—namely, the development of the war-time fire-fighting organisation. As previous speakers have pointed out, thermo-nuclear war would bring fire on an absolutely unprecedented scale. Devastation would obviously be much more widespread than in the war of 1939–45, because of the hazards of firefighting in fall-out conditions. Obviously, that means that operations must involve the bringing of appliances from outside the danger area. So the whole fire services of the country will be under central control. The bulk of resources available will be organised in mobile columns, each consisting of thirty main pumping appliances, together with ancillary equipment. The strength of each will be about 600 men and they will be situated outside built-up areas. The need to conduct firefighting operations over wrecked roads and away from water obviously poses new problems from the point of view of equipment. Great ingenuity has been shown in designing and producing suitable equipment for this task. Nearly 3,000 special self-propelled appliances for this particular object will be available by the end of this year.
An experimental training school has been set up at the headquarters of the Surrey Fire Brigade at Reigate. One hundred volunteers from various fire brigades are attending for a period of six months and good results in new techniques and controls have already been achieved. Some form of standard control is now in course of preparation and, as my noble friend Lord Carrington indicated, satisfactory progress in training 252 Class H Reserves in fire-fighting has been made. This is done at Washington Hall, at Chorley, in Lancashire, which has been designed to accommodate about 10,000 reservists a year for basic training in fire-fighting. Already some 2,250 reservists have been trained. This scheme has worked remarkably well, despite the pessimism displayed by many people when the scheme was initially launched, and a great deal of keenness has been shown by those participating in it. A second establishment is to be opened next year at the former R.A.F. Station. Moreton-in-the-Marsh, for advanced training on a scale not hitherto possible.
On the subject of training plans generally, about which several noble Lords have expressed some little anxiety, I may say that the whole of the training machinery has now been completely overhauled. The old system was criticised by some people because training of individuals took too long and, so it was alleged, was insufficiently co-ordinated. Frankly, some of it was rather dull. It was decided last year that individual volunteers should be trained by section instructors who could carry through the whole training relating it all the time to the specialised needs of the Civil Defence Corps. The new system had to be instituted and instructors qualified to give the new type of instruction. I am glad to say that excellent progress has been made with this large-scale reconversion. Since the beginning of 1955 nearly 2,000 instructors have passed through the three Home Office schools, and I think I can say that there have been noteworthy improvements all round. I readily admit that complaints are still received about the type of training given by individual instructors. I will admit that it is not possible entirely to remove the grounds for such complaints, but great progress has been made and there has been substantial overall improvement.
There have also been courses for senior officers—that is, those responsible for Civil Defence at local authority level—which have been running at the Staff College since it was first set up; and they have been kept up to date on new developments. There has been a new course this year at Sunningdale for sector controllers, the men who would be actually in control at the scene of damage and who would be responsible for the conduct 253 of operations over an area of up to, perhaps, one and a half square miles. My noble friend Lord Bridgeman spoke of leadership and the high calibre of leadership required in Civil Defence, as in all other forms of national service. We could not agree more wholeheartedly, but one cannot get leadership by White Papers or Acts of Parliament: something more tangible is wanted. So far, we have had about 500 of these people who require to show leadership of the highest calibre, but we can do with a great deal more of them. These courses are going on and we attach the utmost importance to them.
I should like here to add a word on a matter of rather technical importance which I think will interest those noble Lords who have been worrying about control at regional level—I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest was more worried than most noble Lords. I readily agree that this is a matter of great importance. As soon as the full effects of the hydrogen bomb had been weighed up it was clear that the system of operational control which had been in existence was no longer adequate to meet the new conditions, and local authorities have had to mark time as regards the necessary recasting of their control system while a careful and thorough survey of the situation was carried out in the light of the greater degree of damage and of the effects of radioactive fall-out. No Civil Defence scheme can hope to be effective without an efficient control structure, and great care has been taken in working out a new system which will carry with it a much greater increase in mobility, although mobility cannot be the whole answer. I am glad to say that it has now been possible to complete the working out of this new scheme and an outline of it will be communicated to local authorities in the near future so that realistic planning can be resumed. We can reasonably expect that this will have a most salutary effect in giving realism to local authority preparations—for realism is, of course, most important—even though it will necessarily take some time to apply the general lines of the new system to the different conditions of each area.
Several noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen (who himself commands a Home Guard unit), the noble Lord, Lard Limerick, and my noble 254 friend Lord Long, have raised the question of the rôle of the Home Guard and the Territorial Army. I was very glad to hear Lord Long say such kind things about the death of my own regiment and was also grieved to hear him tell that story about a lunatic "general post" amongst a unit in the West Country. I will certainly have that matter looked into. All I can say is that it does not look as though the, Army has changed very much since my day. The whole question of the rôle of the active Army, the Territorial Army and the Home Guard in Home Defence has been most carefully reconsidered, and this examination is very near completion. I am sure noble Lords will appreciate that the future of the Home Guard forms part of the whole pattern of Home Defence, and they will therefore not expect me to be in a position to make an announcement in isolation. I must ask them on this occasion to be patient, but I assure them that a full statement will be made in the near future.
My Lords, we have another debate of interest to follow, and therefore I will weary you no longer. I have tried to be as frank as I can with the House. There are important aspects of Civil Defence in which we are not yet ready to announce plans—not because we have been in the least unwilling to grapple with the problems involved, but because those problems have proved so intractable. We shall persevere with them, but I am sorry to say that I can see no prospect of our being able to make any comprehensive statement about the progress made and conclusions reached—which even then may have to be provisional in some respects—before the issue of the next White Paper early in 1956. I should be lacking in candour if I did not make that statement to the House now.
§ LORD MANCROFT
The next White Paper. In the meantime, as I hope I have been able to show, we have reached decisions and made advances wherever and whenever it has been possible to do so; and action has followed speedily upon decision. As compared with this time last year we have arrangements in train, not simply in general terms for the allocation of such help from the Fighting Services as might be available, but for trained assistance from specially trained units and for the addition of trained manpower to the specialist Fire Service. 255 We have laid the foundations of a nationwide scheme for reporting radioactive fall-out and for making operational use of the information made available. We have strengthened the regional Civil Defence organisation and have reached conclusions about the formidable problem of control of Civil Defence operations which will, we hope, soon enable local planning to start again.
These are only examples. I hope the House will agree that the sum total of the steps forward marks a quite significant achievement. Let me assure your Lordships as strongly as I can that we are far from being satisfied or complacent. There can never be any finality about plans for anything so imponderable as Civil Defence. We realise as well as anybody how much there is still to do and what an enormous field has to be covered before we can express the slightest degree of satisfaction with the progress made; the problem is too vast and too grim for that. But I ask your Lordships to accept the fact that we are realistically and anxiously aware of the problems to be solved and of the need to push on and find practical answers to them.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Man-croft, will forgive me if I point out that between inertia and hysteria there are a great many steps. In spite of the news that he has given us, I cannot help thinking that Her Majesty's Government have still not convinced people, and have not given a sufficient lead to arouse that enthusiasm which is required to get volunteers. I believe there are just two points that may have been misunderstood. I certainly did not advocate a wholesale policy of shelters the cost of which I think Lord Carrington calculated at some £2.000 million.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
No; I think the noble Earl has misunderstood me. I said that if all the proposals advocated in the Labour Party pamphlet on Civil Defence were actually put in train they would probably cost something between £2,000 million and £3,000 million.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I thank the noble Lord for that clarification. I think there are varying shelter policies. There are great deep-shelter policies which no-one outside Sweden has contemplated. 256 There is also a policy rather like that of the Anderson and Morrison shelters which we had in the last war and which would be capable of adaptation to the problems here. A number of useful points, I think, have come out in the course of the debate. Her Majesty's Government have given us news of some small steps, and I would only say that I agree wholeheartedly with what the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, has said about secrecy. Do not let secrecy stop any Government announcement. It is important to get something, even if it is only provisional, that will give the public the idea of how the Government view the problem. May I thank noble Lords who have taken part in this debate and ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.