asked the Home Secretary (1) whether badges of rank have been authorised for the various grades of Civil Defence personnel; to what extent these badges have been reported on by many local authorities as being unsuitable and difficult of recognition; for what branches of Civil Defence have no badges been authorised; and whether he is aware that there is, throughout the country, general dissatisfaction with the approved badges;
(2) whether he is aware that wholesale divergences from the approved patterns of Civil Defence badges and uniform generally are prevalent throughout the country; and whether, in view of the fact that no Civil Defence disciplinary code exists, he will reconsider having badges of rank at all in that service?
The scheme of rank markings which was introduced to meet the operational needs of the Services in September last provided for the junior supervisory grades of all the local authority Civil Defence General Services, and for controllers and the senior supervisory grades in the wardens service. Provision was not made for the senior supervisory grades in the other services because of the difficulty of devising a standard plan to meet all the variations in local organisation, including the widely varying responsibilities of the senior officers of local authorities who are ordinarily in charge of those services. Some local authorities, anticipating the official scheme or finding it insufficient for their own organisation, have introduced unauthorised innovations which do not, however, so far as I am aware, affect operational efficiency. To insist upon a change would entail the use of additional material as well as further expenditure. I appreciate my hon. and gallant Friend's argument that badges of rank should not be necessary in the Civil Defence services but the general opinion is that they are desirable, if only to facilitate identification of key personnel. If it were legitimate to start afresh I would consider the introduction, in the place of bars and chevrons, of descriptive markings which have the advantage of raising no questions of precedence. The justification of making a complete change under present circumstances is, however, very doubful.
Would it not be better to have the grade of the wearer designated by lettering on the shoulders, which could be read by everybody—such as "Controller," "Chief Warden," or whatever it might be—rather than to have any form of badge or rank liable not to be understood by the public or even by the service concerned?
I have indicated that if I were in a position to consider the matter afresh I think there would be a great deal to be said for that point of view, but it would involve the use of material and labour and administrative troubles to make the change at the present time. I will, however, consider the matter as and when new uniforms are issued.