§ Mr. Terlezki
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give an assessment of local authorities' civil defence preparedness; and if he will make a further statement on the planned programme for the implementation of the Civil Defence (General Local Authority Functions) Regulations 1983.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
A number of local authorities are making encouraging progress in meeting their civil defence responsibilities, but the rate of progress varies considerably and there is a great deal still to be done before there is a satisfactory and balanced state of preparedness across the country. I therefore propose to require local authorities to pursue a rolling three-year programme setting priorities and a timetable for implementation of the 157W 1983 regulations. The programme emphasises the central importance of detailed operational civil defence plans. It sets six-monthly target dates for their staged completion in all counties within two to three years. New guidance on the preparation of plans and on the all hazards approach will also be issued to accompany the programme.
I have placed in the Library copies of a report on the present state of local authority civil defence preparedness; the proposed three-year planned programme for implementation of the 1983 regulations; and drafts of the new guidance.
In the context of the programme, and as part of the discussion of civil defence grant estimates, my Department will review progress annually with individual authorities and agree detailed objectives for the following year. Officials are writing today to the local authority associations seeking comments, and I intend that the final programme should be issued to local authorities in October.
The Government intend that all local authorities shall carry out their statutory civil defence responsibilities, and I hope the programme will be recognised as a constructive and necessary focus for this vital work. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is making broadly similar arrangements in Scotland.