§ Mr. Kirby
asked the Home Secretary what responsible representatives of his watched the recent invasion exercises in the city of Liverpool; whether he can report to the House their impressions as to the adequacy and efficiency, or otherwise, of the city's defence services; and whether the North Western Regional Commissioner was present at a fire incident at the Custom House and was satisfied with the speed and manner in which this fire was tackled by the National Fire Service organisation?
§ Miss Wilkinson
The exercise to which my hon. Friend refers was a large-scale exercise covering the whole of Merseyside and including an urban population of over 1,250,000. The fighting services, Civil Defence Services and local staffs of many Government Departments took part. In accordance with the usual arrangements, responsible representatives of the authorities concerned attended the exercise, and the Regional Commissioner and738W the Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security also visited the exercise during its course. The exercise was very successful. The purpose of exercises of this kind is to ascertain in what respects defence plans and the co-operation and functioning of the services concerned can be improved, and the material provided by the exercise is being carefully studied from this point of view. The Regional Commissioner was present at the fire incident at the Custom House and and saw no reason to comment adversely on the work of the Fire Service. The chief umpire of the exercise has, in fact, paid a special tribute to the work of the National Fire Service on this incident.