HL Deb 23 June 1986 vol 477 cc10-1

3.6 p.m.

Read a third time.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That this Bill do now pass.—(Lord Renton.)

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, there is happily agreement on all sides of your Lordships' House about the usefulness and desirability of this Bill. I should like very briefly to emphasise the Government's full support for this short but significant measure.

The civil defence legislation under which specific grant is paid towards the cost of local authorities' emergency planning staff and other resources is at present expressed entirely in terms of hostile attack by a foreign power: quite rightly so since this was the problem at which the legislation was aimed. But the effect is that technically staff whose costs are supported entirely by civil defence grant should not be spending any of their time on work that falls outside the scope of the 1948 Act, nor should facilities such as emergency centres be used. The Bill seeks to provide a statutory basis for greater flexibility in the use of these resources. I am greatly encouraged that there has been such widespread support for this Bill. I hope increasingly that civil defence issues can be considered without controversy and placed in their proper context, which is the broad spectrum of planning against all forms of emergency and disaster. I believe the Bill marks a valuable step forward towards a proper state of preparedness throughout the country.

I close by congratulating my honourable friend Sir Nicholas Bonsor for introducing this Bill, and for moving it skilfully through another place; and I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Renton who took it out and has championed it most ably and successfully in your Lordships' House. They can justly feel very satisfied with their achievement.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for his very kind comments, and for emphasising the points that he has. I should also say that I am grateful to the hundreds of noble Lords who have curbed their enthusiasm for the Bill by not speaking, and for thus enabling us to get this necessary Bill on to the statute book as quickly as possible. It has been welcomed on both sides of both Houses. It is timely because the Chernobyl disaster tragedy has shown the need for our own local authorities to be prepared to protect our people against nuclear accidents even on the Continent. My Lords, I commend the Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill passed.