HL Deb 19 January 1967 vol 279 cc211-2

3.6 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement on the intended relationship between the reorganised Civil Defence Corps, the Territorial Army Associations and the Territorials; having regard to the Statement to Parliament made by Her Majesty's Government on December 14, 1966.]


My Lords, the primary role of the Territorials will be to assist the civil authorities in the maintenance of law and order, whereas the future role of the Civil Defence Corps is the rather different one of helping the local authorities to man the control system and providing limited numbers of specialists. Arrangements are, however, being made for liaison between the Armed Forces and those local authorities who are responsible for raising divisions of the Civil Defence Corps.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply. He said that arrangements for liaison are being made. Can he say by whom they are being made, and what the arrangements are? Are they being made at this moment, or does the noble Lord mean that they will be made if an incident occurs?


My Lords, my words were carefully chosen. Arrangements are being made at this moment; in other words, the new organisation is being set up. The authorities concerned are the counties and county boroughs, who are also the Civil Defence Corps authorities, and the Ministry of Defence are considering the appointment of suitable officers from all three Services to act as joint liaison officers between the majority of these local authorities and the Armed Forces as a whole. These officers will be available (and this, I think, deals with part of the noble Lord's point) to assist in peace-time planning and co-ordination.


My Lords, I am afraid there was a certain amount of noise when the noble Lord was giving his main Answer, and I did not quite catch whether he made any mention of the Territorial Army Associations. Are these officers now liaising with the Associations?


My Lords, the Territorial Army Associations have specific functions, which were outlined in the course of the debate, and those functions will continue. The Associations will not, as I understand it, be directly involved in this specific operational liaison, but they are fully in the picture and are being fully consulted. Here again, this is in process of being worked out. Perhaps I might add, as I am sure the noble Lord would wish, that Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to the work of the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces' Associations.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the greatest risk immediately after a nuclear attack is uncontrolled fire, and that at one time numbers of Territorials were to be trained in fire-fighting to help the fire authorities? Has that idea been dropped; and, if so, what alternative do the Government propose?


My Lords, with great respect to the noble Lord, think that is another matter, and perhaps he would like to put down a further Question. Broadly, his statement is correct, and the limited role of the Territorials in this respect will now, so far as I can judge from the present development, cease. The role of the Territorials is primarily that of supporting the Civil Power in maintaining law and order. This was fully explained in the debates that we had last summer.

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