Civil Contingencies Bill
Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour)
My Lords, I understand what these amendments are getting at and, indeed, one tends to sympathise with them. But I do not think that we should underestimate the innate common sense and ability of people generally. We have to be very careful that we do not confuse them with too many instructions about too many possible emergencies. A huge range of emergencies can exist and I do not see how people can be trained for every one.
I live in Reading, and unfortunately the recent terrible train crash occurred just outside Reading at Ufton Nervet. What was remarkable was not only the way in which the emergency services were able to cope and to arrive in double-quick time but the way in which the general public were able to help. Even the travellers on the train were able to help. They were on the spot; they recognised what the emergency was; and, like the marine who was injured but nevertheless went back in to help other people out of shattered carriages, they knew what to do and they did what they could.
Those of us with memories of the last war also know that in the terrible bombing of London people often knew instinctively what to do. Therefore, we must recognise the innate intelligence and ability of people, although, as other noble Lords have said, we must help them and give them as much information as we can without confusing them.