Home Defence

Oral Answers to Questions — Armed Forces – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1951.

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Photo of Sir Ian Fraser Sir Ian Fraser , Morecambe and Lonsdale 12:00 am, 24th January 1951

asked the Minister of Defence if he will set up a general home defence guard to be responsible for Home Guard and Civil Defence duties.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

This proposal has been carefully considered, but I am satisfied that, on balance, it would be undesirable.

Photo of Sir Ian Fraser Sir Ian Fraser , Morecambe and Lonsdale

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think this an impossible arrangement to go on recruiting for Civil Defence with a promise that the people concerned can, in the event of war, immediately go over to the Home Guard? Does not this whole matter require to be gone into by the Service and Home Office Ministers at highest level?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

No, Sir. The proposal in the hon. Member's Question would amount either to militarisation of the Civil Defence services, or, on the other hand, bringing the Home Guard under the civil authority. We see great objections to either of those courses.

Photo of Mr Anthony Head Mr Anthony Head , Carshalton

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to look into this matter again, because the present situation is interfering with Civil Defence recruiting and preparedness, and the Home Guard is not doing any good?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

It has been quite clearly stated that the Home Guard will not be raised until an emergency eventuates, and I do not, therefore, see why that should interfere with Civil Defence recruiting.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

Would the right hon. Gentleman say how he can describe our present condition if he does not call it an emergency?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham King's Norton

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that one of the motives behind the proposal in this Question is that in certain parts of the country, such as the big cities, it is perhaps Civil Defence which has a priority call for part-time manpower, whereas in certain other districts in the countryside, where airborne landings could take place, the questions are more for the Home Guard?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

That may be so, but for the moment it is Civil Defence which has the priority. That is the only force which is being raised, and for which we are appealing for recruits.