HC Deb 10 July 1987 vol 119 cc305-6W
Mr. Gow

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any changes are proposed in the arrangements for warning of air attacks on the United Kingdom and for monitoring the effects; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd

The Government attach a high priority to the maintenance of an effective air attack warning system which can quickly be brought into operation if needed. We pay tribute to the work of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation and particularly its field force, the Royal Observer Corps, which is largely composed of volunteers who are trained to carry out warning and monitoring tasks in the event of hostilities. The UKWMO has been in existence for over 30 years and the Government have concluded that it would be timely to undertake a comprehensive review of warning and monitoring arrangements in the light of current planning assumptions and technological developments. Accordingly, a review is to be carried out with the following terms of referenceReview existing arrangements for warning of an air attack on the United Kingdom and monitoring its effects including the functions and facilities of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation, and its field force the Royal Observer Corps, and police responsibilities for the warning system. Taking account of current planning assumptions, including the possibility of conventional, chemical and nuclear attack, and in the light of emergency planning arrangements generally, make recommendations on:

  1. (a) the aims and the operational requirements of a system for warning of air attack and for identifying, warning of and reporting on the effects;
  2. (b) the functions, structure and organisation of agencies needed to operate the system, including accountability and management, and the roles of any supporting agencies; and
  3. (c) requirements for equipment and facilities; and make assessments of;
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  5. (d) cost and effectiveness; and
  6. (e) the application to any wider role in emergency planning arrangements."

Arrangements will be made to consult with members of the UKWMO, including the ROC, as well as the other agencies involved, and full account will be taken in the review of the long standing links between the corps and the RAF. The conclusions of the review are not expected to be known until 1988 but in due course we shall consider the extent to which they can be made available.

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