I beg to move,
That the Civil Defence (Public Protection) Regulations 1967, a draft of which was laid before this House on 22nd June, be approved.
These Regulations are necessary because of the statement made by my right hon. Friend on 14th December, when he said that in future local authority employees would be asked to play a bigger part in helping local authorities to carry out their civil defence functions.
One of the main features of our civil defence preparations is the provision of an emergency system of control. Its purpose is initially to direct life-saving operations and so subsequently to provide a framework of civil administration to marshal and co-ordinate the use of available resources to the best advantage of the community.
The local authority controls are an in-integral part of this system which provides, in a broad sense, for the carrying on of government in war. It is right that local authorities should arrange to discharge their civil defence responsibilities so far as they can through the medium of their own staffs, so enabling the maximum use to be made of their knowledge and experience gained in the peace time administration of local services.
Our main purpose in the Regulations is to make explicit the duty of local authorities to train their staffs in peace time to help in manning the control system in emergency. This training is necessary since the circumstances after nuclear attack would inevitably involve changes in the scope and nature of the duties of local authority staffs.
We recognise that local authority staffs may not, without assistance, be able to man all the controls at all levels and, as my right hon. Friend said in December, local authorities will be able to continue to look to members of the Civil Defence Corps for the invaluable help they have always provided. These Regulations place the function of training local authority staffs on the councils of counties, county boroughs, London boroughs, the City and certain specified county districts.
In carrying out their functions under the Regulations local authorities are required to comply with any direction given by my right hon. Friend. If the draft Regulations are approved, my right hon. Friend will issue directions in the form of a circular to local authorities about the training of staff. Apart from the express provision for training, the draft Regulations follow broadly the Civil Defence (Public Protection) Regulations, 1949, which they will replace. We have taken the opportunity to make amendments where necessary to bring the 1949 Regulations up to date.
Perhaps I should very briefly draw attention to particular points in the draft Regulations on which the House might find it helpful to have some explanation. Regulation 1, with the First Schedule, will confer on the specified local authorities the civil defence functions set out in the Regulation. It authorises the making of plans and the taking of necessary preparatory measures whether or not an attack has actually occurred. It requires the local authorities to maintain a system of reporting and control for the carrying out of life-saving measures and measures for survival. The Regulation also confers the functions of rescuing trapped persons, taking certain protective measures against the effects of radiation and biological or chemical warfare, and instructing and advising the public on the effects of hostile attack and on protective measures which they could take. This would include, for example, the giving of advice, in a period of tension, about the preparation of fall-out rooms in houses. I have already mentioned the remaining function conferred by the regulation of training members of local authority staffs. I should perhaps add that there are other regulations, which have been in existence for some years, requiring local authorities to provide training in civil defence for their staffs.
Regulation 2 requires, as I have said earlier, that local authorities, in carrying out their functions under the Regulations, shall comply with any direction that may be given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
The House will wish to know that the local authority associations and the National and Local Government Officers' Association have been consulted on the draft Regulations, and I would like to thank them for the help that they have given and the co-operation that they have shown. The associations representing the authorities, on whom the draft Regulations confer functions, do not dissent from the proposals. The National and Local Government Officers' Association is content with the draft Regulations on the footing that it will for local authorities to seek the voluntary co-operation of their staffs in this training. The draft Regulations do not seek to place any obligation upon local authority staffs.
The draft Regulations, together with the draft Regulations which have been laid before Parliament by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, for which approval is also to be sought today, are necessary to enable local authorities to implement fully the new arrangements for local authority civil defence which the Home Secretary outlined in the House in December. As he said then, the Government believe that by carrying out these measures we shall retain, on the most economical basis, a pattern of civil defence preparations which, there were a nuclear attack on this country, would enable some lives to be saved. In the light of the full consultations that we have had with the interests concerned, I am satisfied that these draft Regulations will give the local authorities the powers they need and I commend them to the House for approval.
The right hon. Lady's very clear explanation of these Regulations omitted some essential facts about the Government's change of policy, and that was very regrettable. As the right hon. Lady said, these Regulations implement the changes of policy announced by the Home Secretary on 14th December last, but we consider those changes to be gravely mistaken. For a saving of only £1 million, there is to be a reduction from 122,000 to 75,000 or 80,000 people in the strength of the Civil Defence Corps. Eighty thousand people, however well trained and organised, are nothing like enough to provide even a skeleton organisation to prepare a nation the size of ours for nuclear war.
The Defence White Paper published this week proposes various reductions in the Armed Forces, but I am glad to say it leaves intact our contribution to maintaining the nuclear deterrent. But in making this drastic reduction of the Civil Defence Corps the Government seem to have forgotten the basic principle that for the nuclear deterrent to be effective it must be credible so that those who might attack us must assume that we would retaliate, and they assume that because we are prepared to care for the survivors if the worst should happen.
One reason why not only this country for the past 17 years, but also all the N.A.T.O. countries and Russia have maintained civil defence organisations—and theirs is even stronger than ours—is in order to make plain the credibility of the deterrent. But when such a drastic reduction as is proposed is put forward, the credibility of the deterrent is necessarily weakened, and hence the importance of this matter.
I do not blame the right hon. Lady, because she and I waited for two whole mornings for the matter to come on, we spent one whole morning waiting for a Bill on the Welsh language to be completed—but it is regrettable that we should find ourselves at this late hour, after three all-night sittings on Government business, discussing a matter which is of great importance to the country.
Almost as bad as the reduction in the number of civil defence volunteers is a matter over which the right hon. Lady skated very lightly—the destruction of the Civil Defence Corps as we know it. That corps has provided an effective body of trained volunteers inspired by esprit de corps, and it is now to be replaced by local government officers who must be volunteers and cannot be compelled, who are to fill as many places as possible at all levels of this depleted Organisation, the gaps being filled by volunteer members of the public. It is idle to pretend that in these circumstances the volunteer spirit will be quite the same.
I join the right hon. Lady in paying tribute to the volunteers who have given their time, their effort, their good will and their skill to the work Of the Civil Defence Corps. I should also like to join with her in paying tribute to those, whether local government officers or members of the public, who will help in future, but it is a most regrettable and unfortunate change.
We consider that later this year, I hope early next Session, there should be a general debate on civil defence, a debate in Government time. There has not been such a debate for a very long time, not since the present Government were elected.
Civil defence debates have never been frequent, but we have nów run for as long a period as we ought without such a debate. The last major reorganisation of the Civil Defence Corps was announced in 1962. I remember that we had a debate in the year in which the changes proposed were discussed, and there has been only one debate since then in this House, although there have been debates in another place. The time has come for another debate in this House. Perhaps it would be convenient to have that debate when the present reorganisation has taken place and we are in a position to take stock. Meanwhile we have to consider these Regulations.
The Regulations are merely formal instruments for carrying out the new policy. It is the policy that we object to, not the Regulations per se. These Regulations require affirmative Resolutions, but I certainly would not ask the House to vote against them or to delay them even further. There has already been enough delay and dithering by the Government over civil defence programmes.
Consider the position. On 29th July, 1965, the Secretary of State for Defence forecast that civil defence would be reorganised. On 14th December, 1966, the Home Secretary announced the change of policy with the depletion of the Civil Defence Corps. Early this month these Regulations were laid before Parliament in draft, and they are not due to come into operation until 1st September. I understand that the Government, having delayed so long, are now to have an almightly rush because I gather that the reorganisation is to be completed by the end of September, although the circulars have not yet been sent to local authorities telling what has to be done and how to do it.
Therefore, I hope that the Minister of State will tell us when the administrative circulars will be sent to local authorities and when the reorganisation is due to be completed. It is quite clear that local authorities will in future have a greater responsibility for training than in the past and I would like to ask some questions about this.
First, what is to happen to the Civil Defence Staff College and to the Home Office training establishments? Will they continue to perform for local authorities the functions that they have so far performed for the Civil Defence Corps? If not, why not? Secondly, as local authority employees will have to undergo training—those which are not already trained—will they undergo that training in their ordinary working time, or will they have to give up their spare time in order to do it? Thirdly, who is to pay for the training of these employees and other volunteers? Presumably both the ratepayers and taxpayers will do so, but we should be told in what proportions the cost will be borne.
To the extent that taxpayers have to bear the cost, will the Treasury grant be covered by specific grants for civil defence or will the cost merely be a factor brought into the calculation when the rate support grant is being fixed biennially.
Fourthly what is to happen to the Regional Control Headquarters which are such a vital part of the communications system upon which the whole civil defence set-up is based? So far they have been built under Home Office estimates and operated by staff appointed by the Home Office. It has been a Home Office responsibility. Looking at the rather broad terms of the Regulations which we are discussing, I see that this could be the function of local authorities
to make plans for controlling and coordinating action necessary as a result of hostile attack.
Looked at very strictly, that would seem to cover the work done by Regional Control Headquarters. But that may not be the intention, although it could be said that the Regulation could be read in that way. Would the right hon. Lady tell us what is to happen to these headquarters
and who will pay for them? Will the local authorities be expected to man them? If so, the same questions of cost will arise.
My fifth question relates to the sections of civil defence to be operated in future. I understand that, although the local authorities are required under the Regulations to make plans for rescuing people from damaged buildings and debris, there is to be no rescue section in future. If that is so, how is the rescue work to be done?
How many people will there be in the warden section, which obviously must be retained because it is the most important part of civil defence? With the depleted numbers which will be available in the Civil Defence Corps, how many people will each civil defence warden be responsible for getting in touch with and advising in peacetime?
The Women's Voluntary Service has played a vital part in both the welfare section and the warden section, but what part will they play in future? Up to now their co-operation has been vital and splendid, and I hope that their valuable services will be used in future.
Finally, can the right hon. Lady add to our present meagre knowledge of the part to be played in civil defence by the Territorial Army? In particular, it would he helpful if she could tell us under whose command locally in each borough and county the local Territorial Army unit will come when that unit plays such part as it may be required to play, about which we should like to know more. The question of local responsibility could be vital, and if it is not clarified it could be embarrassing.
Unless we get clear answers to these questions—and there are many others which could be asked—
I would not wish to argue about your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the right hon. Lady, in presenting the Regulations, opened the matter fairly broadly with various background statements about the change of policy which made the Regulations necessary. It seemed to me that we could not understand the full import of the Regulations unless we had answers to the questions which I have put, including the question about the Territorial Army.
The Minister of State may have been out of order, but it is clear to me that questions relating to the Territorial Army do not arise under these Regulations. The debate must be confined to the responsibilities of the local authorities. The fact that the right hon. Lady may have been out of order does not justify any other right hon. or hon. Member in pursuing matters relating to the Territorial Army.
The right hon. Lady did not mention the Territorial Army. Had she done so, I might not have had to put my question. However, I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and will pursue the matter on some other suitable occasion.
Unless we get a clear answer to those questions, it will be impossible to get even a broad idea of the practical effect of the Regulations and of the way in which this very big change in public policy will work out.
I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) will not take it amiss if I say that he reminds me of the Mad Hatter asking questions of Alice in Wonderland. The subject which we are debating lends itself to a good deal of self-deception. I do not ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to take that from me. I refer him to what his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said in the House on 4th March, 1965:
The Chinese may survive
a nuclear exchange;
masses in Asia and Africa may survive; for aught I know, the Russians and the Americans, after having suffered immeasurable damage, might after a fashion survive. I do not know, but one thing I know, and that is that we would not survive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1965; Vol. 707, c. 1650.]
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone was entirely right. Of course, he waited until he was out of office to get right about it, but better late than never. He was uttering the truth as it is known to people without the necessity of having to provide some sort of pretence and who recognise that in a nuclear exchange the possibility of survival of life on this Island is remote indeed. That is not to say that no provision should be made, but those are facts which are widely recognised.
As the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire has said, the Regulations transfer responsibility for important civil defence functions from central to local government. In doing so, some money is saved. It is saved by increasing the process of pretence. The functions are devolved upon local authorities but, as far as I can see, no provision is made for them to be carried out. They are transferred theoretically rather than practically.
The Regulations provide that local authorities shall collect intelligence about the results of hostile attack, control and co-ordinate action and rescue persons from buildings, protect people against the toxic effects of radiation resulting from nuclear warfare and from biological and chemical warfare, and instruct, advise and protect the public. I wish them luck, but I wonder how they will do it.
I hope that everyone knows that local authorities are not prepared to do, and that it is doubtful whether they can do, anything of the sort. This is an exercise in make-believe and we have to ask ourselves precisely why the charade is being, and has been, performed.
The Act from which the Regulations stem is an Act of 1948. It is, therefore, a pre-H-bomb age act. There was reason to believe that during the A-bomb age, in the fission rather than the fusion era, some possibility of survival on these Islands existed, but with the arrival of the H-bomb the possibility to survive has been recognised on both Front Benches—this is not something which I have invented or a campaign on the part of the C.N.D.; it is a recognition by both Front Benches—as something which hardly exists. I will quote my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on this presently.
We have to ask ourselves why we go on suggesting in this age that life in this country can continue after a nuclear attack. That is legitimate when discussing the Regulations, because they are for the purpose of trying to preserve life after a nuclear attack as well as after a conventional attack.
With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if local authorities are to take
… measures for the protection of human beings against the toxic effects of radiation resulting from nuclear warfare …
it must be legitimate to ask whether they have any possibility of fulfilling these functions. I am suggesting that local authorities are being charged with functions which, in the nature of things, they are incapable of carrying out. These Regulations ask these authorities to do the impossible. I therefore ask for your permission to explain why, in my view, the House should not agree to these Regulations and why local authorities will nót be able to implement them.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman cannot do that. To do so would be a criticism of the parent Act of 1948. The hon. Gentleman cannot discuss the merits of that Measure. He can only discuss the Regulations, which relate to the functions of local authorities.
In that case I will limit my remarks to the functions of local authorities and explain why these functions cannot be carried out by them, any more than by the Corps which, we are told, will assist them to carry out these tasks.
Those who stay behind in leading positions in the Services tend to consist, certainly to some degree, of the mentally static, spending much of their time dreaming about past achievements rather than adjusting themselves to new duties placed on them by these sort of Regulations. As a member of what was then the London County Council, I
attended a civil defence course, at which it was made clear that the policy was to conceal, and not to reveal, the facts of nuclear war. The language used by the officers was euphemistic to the point of deception. When he meant that, in a nuclear war, there was no real hope of the promised evacuation, the Regional Scientific Training Officer said:
It would not be too good for the inhabitants of London.
He meant that millions would die miserably. Questioned further, the furthest he would go to admitting that he was talking about death was to say:
They would have no further interest.
The Assistant Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade discussed what would happen when, as he put it
… the big bang goes.
Apparently believing Stalin to be still alive, he said:
We don't know when Joe is going to fire his rocket
Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot go into general matters of this sort. We are not discussing the whole question of civil defence; whether it is desirable or otherwise. We are discussing whether certain specific functions should or should not be assigned to local authorities.
I thought that I was illustrating how the functions which are being devolved on local authorities and which were previously carried out by the Civil Defence Corps—and which will still be carried out by that Corps, but in conjunction with local authorities—are incapable of being fulfilled. I therefore suggest that the Regulations have the effect of concealing the fact that the duty of civil defence in a nuclear war cannot be carried out by devolving these functions on local authorities. The fact that local authorities, rather than the central government, are to perform this duty does not make it any more possible for these functions to be carried out.
If it is true, as I think it is, that in a nuclear attack people cannot be saved, that after three or four days there will be no survivors, it makes no difference whether the function is to be carried out by central Government or local government—and if hon. Members do not like this, it is unfortunate, but it is true. These Regulations are, therefore, nonsense.
I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you will permit me to quote the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Defence on this aspect, because if he says, as I think he does in the passage I wish to quote, that the Regulations require to be carried out a function that cannot be carried out, his remarks are relevant to the Regulations. Speaking in a defence debate on 4th March, 1965, the Secretary of State for Defence, referring to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone, said:
He talked very seriously about what would happen if any thermo-nuclear exchange took place. He understands these facts. He knows that if we ever loose off this weapon, life on this island would be extinct within three days."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1965, Vol. 707, c. 1660.]
That, I entirely understand and accept, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall not attempt to do so. I will only repeat the point I have been trying to make, which is that my reason for saying that the Regulations ought not to be put into effect is that they require and charge local authorities to carry out a series of functions which, in the nature of nuclear war as it now is, they are entirely incapable of performing.
Before the hon. Member sits down, is what he has been saying, in effect, that after these Regulations are passed there is no longer any effective civil defence organisation in this country?
I say that there never has been effective civil defence organisation in this country since the invention of the hydrogen bomb, and these Regulations merely emphasise that fact.
This is all very provoking, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) has trailed his coat in regard to a lot of issues and I should very much like to follow him, but I know that I must not do so. Perhaps I might say, however, that it is he and not the rest of the House who is guilty of self-deception; he, not the rest of the House, who is involved in an exercise of make believe. The evidence is against him, and against him all the way. It is, therefore, absolutely vital that the Government, of whatever party, should make it quite clear that they appreciate the value of civil defence.
I want to echo the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) about a wider civil defence debate. I believe that we should have such a debate, when the hon. Member for Putney can make his points on the Floor of the House, and can be shot down in flames by those who have studied the subject. But this is not the occasion.
What fills many of us with alarm about the Government's intentions is simply the lack of information. We had a statement way back last year—a very brief statement indeed. We then have these three sets of Regulations, put last on the Order Paper on two mornings, and, laughably, on the second morning, put after the Welsh Language Bill. Did the Leader of the House seriously think—
We are lacking information which we should have before we should be required to come to a decision on these three Motions. The right hon. Lady even tried to get these Motions through on the nod on Monday. All along there has been lack of information from the Government on these matters. Such reticence on matters of this sort gives the impression that the Government are not as serious as they should be on questions of civil defence. When over and over again the one point is made that there will be economies, one begins to wonder whether the Government have their priorities right.
I wish to ask the right hon. Lady some questions before we come to a decision on these Regulations. I agree with the general principle that the main weight of responsibility for civil defence should rest on the local authorities. As she said, this would be carrying on government in war, but she did not say in her introductory remarks precisely what change would be made in responsibility. What responsibilities would be carried locally? This information we must have for it is of the essence of what these Motions are about. To be precise, I ask first about staff. She said, and I think it a right policy, that the emphasis will be on recruiting local government staff for training and eventual use if disaster should happen. What happens in a local authority if recruits are not forthcoming? What happens in a particular local authority area if people do not volunteer? The Regulations provide for the Minister to make instructions. Will he make instructions on this? That is a precise question to which I should like to have a precise answer.
What about equipment? When economy is the order of the day it is characteristic that equipment is first to suffer. We get people attending for training or practice without the proper equipment. Is the Minister able to give an assurance that although the numbers will be cut down and although responsibility will become local, there will be no cutting down on standards of equipment? Are we keeping up to date? Are we providing the best sort of equipment for all these matters?
I should like to extend what my right hon. and learned Friend said about training. The Home Office Regulations say specifically that training is the responsibility of local authorities, yet it must be perfectly obvious that the resources of local authorities in these matters are naturally limited. It is not the G.L.C., but the London boroughs which are the responsible bodies. The resources which they have for training are extremely limited. I should like to know whether institutions which have acquired a very high reputation and which are run by the Home Office—the Staff College at Sunningdale and the training establishment at Easingwold in Yorkshire—are to continue. If she is seeking to prove that a smaller force can produce an efficient service, the right hon. Lady must make clear that it will be better trained and equipped. If she can assure me on these points, I shall support her.
It is very clear from your rulings, Mr. Deputy Speaker, which I hope not to transgress, that it is not possible for me to deal with the general lunacy of the Government's civil defence policy. Therefore, I have to apply myself to the particular lunacy enshrined in these Regulations which are before us tonight.
I hope the House will not approve these Regulations, and I hope to be able to deploy my arguments within the rules of order for supporting my contention that these are bad Regulations. I want to deal briefly with two aspects of the Regulations—first, the decision of the Government essentially to disband the Civil Defence Corps as we understand it. My right hon. Friend has explained that the essence of these Regulations carry that decision into effect.
I wish to deal with a matter which is referred to only by implication in the Regulations, and that is the decision of the Government to establish new local authority boundaries in the London area. The Regulations apply specifically to London boroughs, and this means that the main civil defence organisation in the country, which was the London County Council, has ceased to exist, and the functions of the London County Council, which was a sizeable body and had the largest single grouping of civil defence volunteers, are now dispersed among the London boroughs which are the residual legatees of the London County Council.
I believe that the Regulations are so drafted and of necessity, arising from the two decisions in principle of the Government winding up the Civil Defence Corps, coincide almost in time with the dissolution of the largest single group of civil defence workers, the London County Council Civil Defence Corps, which will put the London boroughs in an impossible position. I do not think they will be capable of discharging even the residue of obligations which fall upon them.
I want to illustrate that point by dealing with one of the functions which will fall upon these London boroughs. There are three sets of Regulations before us—the casualty Regulations dealing with the ambulance service, and the general Regulations relating to public protection. I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you will permit me to try to relate these Regulations to the sort of conditions in which they must be applied. I do not think the House can consider these Regulations in abstract. We have to consider what the Regulations mean in the circumstances in which they are designed to apply.
The London boroughs would be expected to put into effect the plans and preparations which they would be obliged by the Home Secretary to prepare beforehand, for the protection of human beings in a nuclear war. There is no other purpose of the Regulations. If the London boroughs were attacked by nuclear weapons, the most common form of H bomb is the 10 megaton bomb, and if a 10 megaton bomb were used on these London boroughs, there would be no London boroughs. The fire zone of a 10-megaton bomb over Westminster would extend, by coincidence, just about to the limits of the Greater London Council area, the area now split up into the London boroughs. It would extend to Waltham Abbey in the north and 12 miles to the south.
Therefore, these Regulations impose upon the London boroughs impossible obligations. Whatever the Government's policy may be—I shall not go into that now—the House is asked to accept Regulations which are impossible of application in the circumstances for which they are drawn.
I come now to the Casualty Services Regulations. Over the 24-mile diameter area of fire zone, there might be—
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner), since he said, in effect, that this is the requiem of the Civil Defence services of this country. I am inclined to agree in that, though I agree with little else that he said. If that be so, it is essential that someone should pay a tribute to the thousands of men and women who, not only during the war but in all the years since, have given selfless voluntary service to our civil defence organisation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I speak with some feeling, having had a little experience of these matters. I was chief warden of Lancashire for several years and saw a good deal of what went on.
The only interpretation I can put on these Regulations is that the Government have jettisoned the whole of our effective civil defence set-up. They put certain powers in the hands of the local authorities, but, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) said, there is no question of having Territorial Army backing, no mention of the warden srevice or anything else. The heart has been taken out of any civil defence organisation.
This might have had some sense if we were no longer a nuclear Power, but the core of the argument against the two hon. Members who have spoken from the benches opposite is that their own Prime Minister, who swore black and blue that he would abolish all nuclear weapons in British hands, has maintained our nuclear power. In these islands today, we are a nuclear Power just as much as Russia or America is. One cannot have the striking force of the nuclear weapon and not at the same time run the risk that that involves in the event of its being loosed off—which God forbid should ever happen.
In these circumstances, it is extraordinary that the Government should, at this hour on a Thursday night, with few hon. Members present, introduce a vastly important change in civil defence policy and put before us Regulations which are puerile in their effect. The powers which the right hon. Lady wishes to give to the local authorities are worthless. I say to the Government:
You have torn the heart and the spirit out of the very core of the civil defence service, and you will not get it back. If you want it, you may well find it difficult to rally its spirit to our assistance gain".
I seldom join with spokesmen for the Opposition, but I agree that the subject of civil defence is worth at least a whole day's debate. I have argued like this not only under this Government but under others before. For years we have been arguing that if we are to defend the civil population—and defence means nothing if we do not do that—the Honse should give the subject the serious attention it deserves. But instead we are given the Regulations at a very inappropriate time, and have little opportunity to discuss their implications. The rules of order limit us, so that we cannot have the full discussion the subject needs. It is difficult to discuss local authorities' duties if we cannot discuss what exactly a nuclear attack is.
The Regulations contain the finest collection of meaningless platitudes I have ever seen compiled in one single draft Order—and that is saying something. Their whole purpose is to pass the buck to the local authorities. I can recall no Government in the past 10 years having gone seriously into the question of civil defence in relation to the development of modern destructive weapons. The Regulations seem to me to be infantile, and the Government completely shirk their responsibility.
The various local authorities are defined. I have never heard of the Isles of Scilly council appearing in Civil Defence Regulations before. Is there any significance in that? Suppose the council of the Isles of Scilly said to a distinguished visitor, "We have been given certain duties under Draft Civil Defence (Public Protection) Regulations. What exactly do they mean? What do we do?" That distinguished visitor would find great difficulty in explaining what the Government intend local authorities to do. Nothing in the Draft Regulations enlightens any local authority.
When they read the implications of the enormous destruction that the local authorities will be called upon to deal with, every intelligent member of a local authority—I have been a member of a local authority for many years—will ask, "What does this mean?" The answer is, "We do not know". We should have a first-class debate, so that the people know the implications of a nuclear attack. Next week we shall discuss defence. We have had two White Papers on defence, and there has been hardly a syllable about the people we are supposed to defend.
Therefore, I join hon. Members opposite in saying that the Regulations should be taken back and the Government should give guidance to the local authorities on exactly what they are to do if a 10-megaton bomb explodes above them. I do not know the answer, and neither does the Minister or anybody else in the country.
I shall endeavour to answer all the questions put to me—at least, all those which were in order, because it would be difficult to answer all of them without getting out of order.
The right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) asked, first, what is to happen to the Civil Defence Staff College and the Home Office training establishments. They will stay for the time being and for some time at any rate. We have no plans to abolish them. There might be an increased demand for places on courses for members of local authority staffs at the Home Office training establishments as a result of the specific requirement in Regulation 1 that the staff be trained.
I was also asked whether local authority employees will have to do their training in working hours or in their spare time. Training should as far as possible be given in normal working hours, but some training, particularly exercises, may have to take place outside working hours, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate.
There was the question of the cost of training local authority staffs, how it will be borne and what proportion will be borne by the rates and by the central Government. Identifiable additional expenditure necessarily incurred in giving training as directed under the Regulations will, subject to audit, be eligible for grant at the rate of 75 per cent. This will include overtime payments and payments for travelling and subsistence properly made under the local authority conditions of service. So 25 per cent. of it will come from the rates and 75 per cent. will be borne by the central Government.
I was also asked what is to happen with the regional control headquarters. These controls, which are part of the emergency system of control, will be manned by civil servants and members of the uniformed Services and public utilities and not by local authority staff or members of the Civil Defence Corps. These draft Regulations deal only with the local authority functions and have no bearing on the arrangements for control at regional level. The revised arrangements for the emergency system of control, about which local authorities were informed in February of last year, provide for regional seats of government to be established as soon as possible after attack at locations selected in the light of prevailing circumstances.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked about the W.V.S.—now the W.R.V.S. I pay tribute to the help which it has given. It will continue to help in providing women for welfare duties, and we hope that we shall get the help from them that we have had in the past.
As to the rescue section and how the rescue work will be done, it was made clear in the Civil Defence circular issued on 31st January this year, which followed my right hon. Friend's statement. that the main provision for rescue will have to be made by those whose peacetime work and expertise fit them for this task—for example, the local authority's own labour force, perhaps supplemented by industrial rescue teams, and, depending on the circumstances at the time, the fire service might be able to render valuable assistance.
I was asked how many people there would be in the warden section and for how many people each warden in a town would be responsible. The warden's section as such has been abolished. The C.D.C. will no longer be divided into sections but the control posts which used to be called wardens' posts will be manned by members of the Corps or local authority staffs.
I cannot answer the right hon. and learned Gentleman's question about the Territorial Army because this was deemed to be out of order. The circular giving details of the organisation was issued on 31st January. The circular to be issued when these Regulations are made is about local authority staff training only. The circular giving directions on training local authority staffs will be issued a few days after the Regulations are made.
The C.D.C. can still be used to man the controls where they are not fully manned by local authority staffs. The hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley) asked what would happen in relation to this aspect. The numbers required in any particular local authority will be proportionately very small as compared with the number of local authority staffs available—so small a proportion that I do not think that there will be any difficulty.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner) talked about the London boroughs and said the Regulations dealt solely with nuclear warfare. But they also deal with controlling and co-ordinating action necessary as a result of hostile attack.
The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) complained about our dealing with these Regulations at this hour. The hon. and learned Member for Huntingdon and I sat here through two mornings waiting to speak on them and we did not see some people present then who are here tonight complaining about the lateness of the hour.
I would be out of order if I went into the wider questions raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) because you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, had to draw him to order on several occasions. But I want to make one overall point.
I was not going to answer something which had been ruled out of order. All I was going to say was that the Government believe that, by introducing these Regulations, in changing the emphasis and putting more responsibility on the local authority staffs, we should have a civil defence not only more economical but more efficient. We believe that these Regulations will produce a more realistic and more efficient way of carrying on civil defence.
I beg to move,
That the Civil Defence (Casualty Services) Regulations 1967, a draft of which was laid before this House on 26th June, be approved.
These draft Regulations, which my right hon. Friend proposes to make under Section 2 of the Civil Defence Act, 1948, consolidate, with amendments, existing Civil Defence Regulations relating to the wartime casualty services provided by local authorities. Regulations approved by Resolutions of the House in 1949 and 1954 make it the duty of county and county borough councils, and by virtue of a provision of the London Government Act, 1963, the Greater London Council, to make plans for the expansion of the ambulance services and the provision of
a service for the collection and removal of casualties in the event of hostile action or the threat of hostile action.
One of the essentials to such planning is the availability of trained manpower. The existing Regulations provide, therefore, that the local authorities shall train not only members of the staff of their peace-time ambulance services but also members of the Civil Defence Corps whose services are made available for ambulance or first-aid duties. It is the Government's view that while the risk of nuclear war has been greatly reduced, the possibilities of accident of miscalculation cannot be entirely discounted, and therefore there can be no guarantee that the present stability will continue indefinitely. We cannot, therefore, discontinue those civil defence preparations which would be likely to make a significant contribution to national survival.
There is, however, scope for some reorganisation, and in a statement on 14th December last my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced the changes that we discussed tonight in the Civil Defence Corps. One result of the changes is that the Corps will no longer make available members for providing ambulance and first-aid services. The rôle of the corps in relation to the casualty services of local authorities will be to provide a limited number of specialists to help to organise the first-aid services. For this reason new regulations are required to permit the training of other persons who will be engaged in these services.
The Draft Instrument consolidates two existing sets of regulations. Regulations 2(a) and 2(b) continue the duty placed on local authorities to plan for the provision of casualty collection and first aid services and for the expansion of the peace-time ambulance service. Regulation 2(c) provides in general terms for the training of persons who would be engaged in those services now or in the future.
Regulations 2(d), 2(e) and 2(f) continue the provisions in the existing Regulations relating to vehicles, limitations affecting peace-time services and co-operation between local authorities in the discharge of their functions.
The Regulations introduce one change in the local authorities to whom the duties are given. Under a provision in Section 49 of the London Government Act, 1963, regulations relating to ambulance and first-aid services were applied to the Greater London Council. Regulation 3 of the draft Regulations provides for the repeal of this provision as being overtaken by the provisions of the draft Regulations. But it is proposed that while the augmentation of the ambulance service in London should continue to be the duty of the Greater London Council, which is the peace-time ambulance authority, the duty of providing a service in London for the collection and first-aid care of casualties should be the responsibility of the London Borough Councils and the Common Council of the City of London. The smaller areas of the London boroughs and the City are more suitable for planning first-aid services. The re-allocation has been agreed with the Greater London Council and the London Boroughs Committee, and it is provided for in Regulation 1 of the draft Regulations.
Apart from this change in the allocation of duties in London the main change made by the Regulations is the provision for training persons engaged in the war-time ambulance and first-aid services. I think that the House will wish me to say more on this. For the first-aid services, my right hon. Friend proposes to ask the local authorities concerned to base their planning on the understanding that those trained members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society who have no other war-time commitment would make their services available in war time.
My right hon. Friend has been in touch with these two organisations, and I would like to pay tribute to the very ready way in which their headquarters agreed to planning proceeding on this basis. I am sure that members of the Brigade and the Society would, in any case, have readily made their services available in wartime, but it is obviously an advantage if they work to pre-arranged plans. I am confident that when local authorities approach the county organisations of the two bodies we shall get a willing response. Their members are, of course, already trained in first aid. They will need training on the background against which they would work in wartime, and some will need training in the specialised work of first-aid organisation or casualty sorting. Regulation 2(c) will permit local authorities to provide such training, or assist the training provided by the two bodies themselves.
The Regulations relate to the functions of local authorities only, and in addition to the plans they would prepare for first aid services there would be the body of trained first-aiders who, in certain circumstances would be available to help in the community.
The peacetime ambulance service will be trained to provide operational control and officer direction of the expanded ambulance services. To provide the additional manpower required in the expanded service my right hon. Friend intends to create a new volunteer civil defence body under section 1 of the Civil Defence Act, 1948, to be called "The Ambulance Reserve". This body would be organised in divisions based on the areas of the ambulance authorities and would consist of persons licensed to drive motor cars who have no wartime commitment and who would be prepared to drive an ambulance in wartime. My right hon. Friend hopes that there will be a very ready response to the recruiting campaigns which he intends to ask ambulance authorities to carry out. This new body, which would not he uniformed, would have only a limited training commitment in peacetime.
In addition to the main sources of manpower which I have mentioned, local authorities may wish to provide training for other members of their staff—mainly in organising first-aid services or in casualty sorting duties— and for persons trained in first-aid who are not employed by the authorities and are not members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade or the British Red Cross Society. Regulation 2(c) of the Draft Regulations will enable all such training to be provided by local authorities.
The remaining provision in Regulation 3 requires that local authorities shall comply with any directions given to them by the Minister. This latter provision flows directly from the authority given by Section 2(2,a) of the Civil Defence Act, 1948.
My right hon. Friend has consulted the appropriate local authority associations on the arrangements which I have outlined. If these Regulations are approved, they will come into operation on 1st Septem- ber. I hope that the House can now approve the Regulations, and I recommend that it should do so.
I think that there is a good deal more justification for these Regulations than there was for the previous ones. Since the Civil Defence Corps was formed, local authority ambulance services have expanded very considerably, and I think that there is a certain amount of logic in correlating the Civil Defence ambulance and first-aid work with the ambulance services of the local authorities.
The Minister of Health is right in making sure that the Red Cross and the St. John Ambulance Brigade are specifically brought into this work. One might not have understood that from reading the Regulations but the hon. Gentleman's statement gives us the assurance that they will be brought in, and of course it is a very valuable assurance indeed, because both the St. John's Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross have played a vital part in helping to train members of the Civil Defence Corps in first-aid, and indeed in ambulance driving.
Bearing in mind that many people—and fortunately their services will be available all over the country whenever casualties arise—have been trained in first-aid simply because they were members of the Civil Defence Corps, could the hon. Gentleman give us an idea of how many will be trained annually in first-aid under the new set up? What is the total number which the Ministry of Health has in mind as being necessary to train? They are two slightly different questions, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman can give clear answers. It would seem, subject to anything that my hon. Friends may wish to say, that there is rather less need for us to detain the House on these Regulations. There is less to criticise about them.
I do not wish to detain the House, but I must express my concern about the feature of the Regulations which has now been put forward relating to the Greater London Council whereby it has certain functions concerning the collection of casualties and the London borough councils have other and related functions.
Once again, it seems that the Government are in the difficult position of coinciding their so-called reorganisation of civil defence with the disappearance of what was the largest civil defence organisation—the London County Council. This complicated arrangement in local government structure may have to stand the most arduous test of nuclear war, and for that reason I am concerned about this feature of the Regulations. I have sought to follow through the application of the Regulations in practical terms to see how they would be related to the arrangements which have previously existed.
What were the Government's proposals regarding the collection of casualties and the giving of first-aid treatment? I refer to what is known in civil defence as Manual Training No. 6, which is specifically devoted to this function of the Civil Defence Corps.
In the Greater London Council area there is a population of about 13 million. I have no knowledge—nor has anybody else—of any precise research which has been done relating to the number of casualties which might have to be dealt with by the London boroughs if we were subjected to the sort of attack which has been referred to tonight. In the United States a great deal of research has been done. Taking a comparative area in New York, we have the benefit of the Hollifield Senate Committee and the Rand Research Organisation. The work of both these bodies has led to the conclusion that in the event of nuclear attack by a 10 megaton bomb—about 2,347,000 people would be killed and some 2,800,000 people would require medical treatment. Therefore, what we are asking the London boroughs to do is to leave the dead and to pick up about 2 million people requiring medical assistance, and to do it very quickly. If they do not receive medical assistance quickly, they will die.
Civil Defence Manual No. 6, which will be the basic work for the new units, because the Home Office will cutely not revise its training manuals, envisages the establishment of forward medical units consisting of four doctors assisted by these newly-trained people. There will also be St. John's Ambulance men and any local authority ambulance men
who can be spared. The manual itself says:
It is estimated that these four doctors would be able to cope with 120 admissions an hour for at least 48 hours.
These are not hospitals; they are forward medical units to which the casualties will be sent, having been collected by the ambulance units and so on. They will not be sent to hospitals straight away. It is thought that a doctor would not be able to stand on his feet after dealing with 120 admissions an hour for 48 hours, and that he will have dealt with a total of 1,440 casualties in the 48 hours.
We have had some experience of collecting casualties. On the night of 7th September, 1940, many of my comrades and I helped to evacuate Silvertown in West Ham when 1,600 people were seriously injured in Silvertown. Nearly all of those 1,600 would have to be dealt with by only one doctor in 48 hours under these arrangements. During the war, at no period did blitz admissions to hospitals exceed 15,000 in 48 hours. By the calculations of this manual it would have meant that at the most extreme period of the blitz those 15,000 casualties would have been the work of no more than 11 doctors.
We are asking these forward medical units to accept obligations and duties in conditions which would have meant that all the casualties in 48 hours at the peak of the blitz would be dealt with by 11 doctors. I think that the House ought not to approve these Regulations.
I will endeavour to restore myself to your favour Mr. Deputy Speaker, by asking my hon. Friend to reply to a single point arising directly from these Regulations. The Regulations make it the duty of a local authority to make plans for the provision and maintenance of a service for the collection and first-aid care of casualties arising from hostile action.
These Regulations, as distinct from the previous ones, make no direct reference to nuclear war. Is it the fact that nuclear war is not envisaged in these Regulations, or, if it is not the case, and they do embrace the possibility of nuclear war and the dealing with casualties arising from it, does my hon. Friend directly disagree with the Secretary of State for Defence who said that in the event of a full-scale nuclear attack, there would be no life in this country after three days?
With your permission Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will reply first to the question put by the hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) about the expected availability of trained personnel under this scheme. I do not think that I can give him the precise answer that he wants, because I do not believe that the information is available. He will be interested to know that the total membership of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society is about 94,000 trained first aiders. Of these, about 26,000 have a commitment to the National Hospital Service Reserve, and other members will have other wartime commitments. The actual numbers of members of the two societies whom local authorities can assume will be available for their first aid services cannot be estimated at this stage, but they will clearly be substantial.
In a war emergency the strength of the societies will be augmented by the thousands of trained first aiders who are not members of the societies. It was because of that consideration that I mentioned in my original speech that we have the great benefit of a vast core of industrially trained first aiders who, outside their normal working hours, would undoubtedly, as they did in the last war, come forward for volunteer work. I accept at once that what I have been able to tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not in the form he requested. I should like to consider his question and see whether I can get the information at a later date.
I want now to refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Horner). He will accept from me that the sort of situation that he has been postulating, aided by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes, is precisely the sort of atmosphere which prevailed in the years immediately preceding the last war, and when we saw pictures and heard accounts of the devastation caused by high explosive bombardments during the Spanish Civil War. I well remember people asking then—and I do not mean this as a criticism—"What is the use of doing anything? We shall be absolutely obliterated. Let's pack up".
Thank Heaven, wiser counsel prevailed and, feeling as I do about nuclear war and the horrific casualties, I can well understand people saying as my hon. Friend said, not just that this scheme was hopeless, but that any scheme was hopeless.
We cannot go into the issue of civil defence as such, but to reply to my hon. Friend, whoever survives a nuclear war will survive, not as a result of civil defence. This is quite irrelevant, and my objection to civil defence is that it makes people believe that there may be a possibility of survival, and no survival is possible.
I just do not agree with that argument. My reason for not agreeing is that what saved us so many casualties in the last war—and I think that the principle would probably apply to any future war, more devastating though that would be—was that, by having a scheme in reserve, there was at least a discipline enforced on the community which resulted in many lives being saved.
I should like to go further and say this. The technique of quick mobilisation has been recently well demonstrated by what the Israel Government were able to do because of years of careful preparation for what should be done in the event of an immediate emergency. Those techniques are, possibly in less dramatic form, being most carefully studied by our advisers, not only in the control of ambulances, not only in the method of dealing with the bombing of hospitals, but in the whole technique of a speedy mobilisation of resources.
I should like to correct the correction which my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen made to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire about the rôle of the forward medical units. They constitute a part of the hospital service. This is not a responsibility of the casualty services which are the subject of the Regulations.
I pay tribute to the obvious knowledge of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen about what has been the subject of research in the United States. I concede at once that the problem would be huge. I do not agree that training manuals are static and not to be amended. On the contrary, our experience and research show that such manuals must be amended from time to time.
We must not be daunted by the appalling casualties that would ensue from nuclear warfare. Our responsibility is to see that there is a framework and structure for training. Hon. Members, in all parts of the House, will accept that the most appalling thing which we in the Army and the people responsible for A.R.P. had to contend with at the outbreak of the last war was the lack of well-trained people and of a good, expert, specialist corps. That is precisely what we are trying to do under the Regulations.
It would be wrong if I were to indicate that we had achieved theoretical perfection. On the contrary, we must understand what the problems are. We must ensure the potential rapid expansion of the services. We can do that only if we provide for this corps of instructors and specialists.
Can the hon. Gentleman explain how any casualty service, trained or untrained, could be of any effect without a rescue service and without a warden service operating in conjunction with it?
I beg to move,
That the Civil Defence (Public Protection) (Scotland) Regulations, 1967, a draft of which was laid before this House on 28th June, be approved.
I have listened with the keenest attention to the points made from both sides of the House on the two preceding sets of Regulations, and not least from my hon. Friends behind me. Underlying some of their remarks, I understand, is the view that the best form of civil defence would be a peaceful settlement in the world which would prevent a nuclear catastrophe ever occurring. I do not dispute that. Nevertheless, it is equally correct to take what steps are possible to provide what protection is possible, however inadequate or misguided some people may think it.
These draft Regulations correspond substantially to the Regulations for England and Wales which have today been approved by the House. I should explain, however, that, in Scotland, the local authorities have no responsibility, in peace or in war, for the ambulance services: the Ambulance Auxiliary Corps in Scotland is part of the National Health Service Reserve and is administered by the Scottish Ambulance Service, which is the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State. The Scottish Public Protection Regulations, therefore, relating as they do only to the civil defence functions of local authorities, do not deal with ambulance functions, but they do, as in the Minister of Health's Casualty Services Regulations for England and Wales, place on the appropriate local authorities the function of providing for the collection and first-aid care of persons injured.
The Regulations would place on local authorities broadly the same functions as were conferred by the earlier Regulations, made in 1949, which they would replace, with the addition of a duty to train members of local authority staffs in civil defence duties. There would be no obligation on individual local authority employees to undertake training in these duties. Staff participation in the arrangements would, therefore, be voluntary, and on this understanding N.A.L.G.O. (Scottish District) has raised no objection on behalf of its members. I should remind the House that power to train members of local authority staffs in certain civil defence duties has already been conferred in Regulations relating to other aspects of civil defence planning; for example, in respect of emergency feeding and care of the homeless.
One effect of the revocation of the 1949 Regulations would be to transfer from the police authorities to county councils and the town councils of large burghs the responsibility for functions hitherto discharged through the warden section of the Civil Defence Corps, a duty which the police inherited because of their experience in organising the warden service in the last war.
In its new rôle, the Corps will not have specialist sections and its organisation and training for the discharge of its warden-type duties, as well as for its other tasks, will become the concern of the local authority. We view with considerable regret the ending of the direct police association with the Corps, but it is logical to concentrate all responsibility for Corps organisation and training under the civil defence officer.
We are confident that, during the transitional period, police authorities and chief constables will be willing to make available to civil defence officers the services of their police civil defence instructors, where this assistance is asked for and where it can be given without prejudice to police duties.
I wish to express the thanks of my right hon. Friend to the voluntary aid societies—the St. Andrew's Ambulance Association and the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society—for their ready agreement to co-operate with the local authorities in the planning of the war-time first-aid service; and to the local authority associations, through their representatives on the standing Local Authority Civil Defence Coordinating Committee, for their assistance in connection with the drafting of these Regulations and other measures required to implement the reorganisation of local authority civil defence to meet current needs.
It is proposed to bring the Regulations into operation on 1st September and I hope the House will have no difficulty in approving them.
As the Under-Secretary explained, these Regulations are broadly similar to the Regulations for England and Wales which we debated earlier. There are, however, some differences, notably those which arise because of our separate form of ambulance service in Scotland.
I do not propose to recommend my hon. Friends to divide against the Scottish Regulations, because we do not object to them. However, we question the policy which lies behind them. In the debate on the Regulations for England and Wales I was not satisfied with the reply of the right hon. Lady the Minister of State, particularly when answering the questions asked by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton). My suspicion has been confirmed that the Government's handling of civil defence has been slipshod and that their treatment of Parliament has been off-hand.
It is an extraordinarily long time since we first had an indication of a change in civil defence policy. It is two years since that change was foreshadowed. I recognise that there had to be discussions with local authority associations, but this long time lapse has caused uncertainty in the Civil Defence Corps. It is right to call attention to the devoted service of so many volunteers, and I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for paying a tribute to them. We should remember that they have carried out their work loyally and efficiently over the last two years, despite the doubts which the Government cast on their future rôle. It would also be proper to echo the thanks expressed by the hon. Gentleman to the chief constables and their forces for their work in training.
Further, it is now more than eight months since the Home Secretary made a statement to the House on his own behalf and on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland. It is now nearly seven months since the Scottish Home and Health Department leaflet stated that the review had been completed. But we have had to wait all this time for these Regulations to be laid. There has been this further delay, made the more offensive, I must say, by the manner in which the Government now wish to rush the Regulations through in the last days of the Session, shifting them forward from day to day at the shortest notice.
We have here yet another example of the inefficient conduct of Government business. I appreciate that this clumsy handling is not the responsibility of the Under-Secretary of State, and I absolve him at once of any discourtesy, but I must point out to him that this is not the way in which the Government should treat the Civil Defence Corps, or the local authorities, or the hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies.
I understand that the consultations with the local authorities were undertaken through the agency of the local authority civil defence co-ordinating committee. The conclusions were sent out in a Scottish Home and Health Department Circular dated 3rd February of this year. That Circular stated that the re-organisation of the Corps was to be completed by 30th September. Here, I return to the question put by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire to the right hon. Lady the Minister of State, Home Office, who, I am rather surprised, was unable to answer it. Is it still the Government's intention to complete the reorganisation by 30th September? Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what progress has been made towards the reorganisation? What consultations have there been with individual local authorities?
Has the process of consultation been carried out successfully through the coordinating committee, or have there also been consultations with individual local authorities? I ask this question because of the Government's own statement in the leaflet that went out with the February Circular, in which attention was called to the fact that there would be variations from place to place in the extent to which local authorities would need assistance from the Corps. In view of the existence of those variations, some consultation with individual local authorities would surely be necessary.
These new proposals obviously represent a heavy extra work load for the local authorities. Does the Minister consider that their staffs can handle this work in addition to their ever-growing responsibilities? Will these additional responsibilities require the enlargement of local authority staffs if these responsibilities are to be properly and efficiently discharged, as they must be? If so, can he estimate what the increased cost will amount to, and what effect the cost of these increased staffs will have on the Government's economy target? As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, we need to be assured that the economies planned to result from the reduction and rundown in the Civil Defence Corps are not swallowed up by consequential costs elsewhere. How will the additional costs facing the local authorities be financed? What will be the cost to the ratepayers?
I observe that all future Civil Defence Corps training will be the direct responsibility of the civil defence officer. What is to be the future of Taymouth Castle, the Scottish training centre? How will it be financed in future? Will it be a central government change, will it be grant aided, and what proportion of the cost will fall on the ratepayers?
I call attention to the importance of reassuring the House and the public that these Regulations will lead to the proper and efficient conduct of civil defence which we need. I shall not add to what my right hon. and learned Friend said about the importance of civil defence to the nation. He argued that very clearly. It is illustrated by the very nature of the functions listed in the Regulations before us. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to give some reassurance about the efficiency of the new system. I have profound doubts about it, particularly in the light of what was said earlier today.
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us about the attitude which local authorities, and particularly their employees, take towards these new responsibilities? I believe he said that there had been no objection from N.A.L.G.O. in Scotland to the voluntary taking of training responsibilities in future, but that is not the answer to the question. Local government officers are loyal and I am sure that they will play their part willingly, but how will they be able to play that part in the new system? At what point on the list of priorities will their civil defence responsibilities lie? The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it is in the relationship between the individual employees of local authorities and their new functions in civil defence that some of the weakness of the system may lie.
A great many other questions should be asked and must be answered, not all of which can arise properly from the narrow terms of this Motion. I join my right hon. and learned Friend and other hon. Members who have pressed the Government for an early debate on the whole subject of civil defence. It is quite impossible at this hour of night, after three all-night sittings, at the shortest notice, and within the confines of these Regulations to debate civil defence adequately. It is many years since we had a debate on civil defence. It is fitting and proper that a full debate should be held since the Government are putting forward the biggest changes in the structure of the system with very little communication or information to the House.
I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to assure us that there will be a full debate at the earliest possible opportunity, and that it will be held in Government time, not at an advanced hour of night.
I agree with certain remarks made from the Opposition Front Bench that this is a very unfortunate time to be discussing the Civil Defence Regulations as they affect Scotland. As a result of the change in the time-table, these Regulations come to us at a time when most Scottish hon. Members will be in their constituencies, or on their way to them. There are not more than three or four hon. Members present representing Scottish constituencies to discuss a very important question, the whole question of what is to happen to the civilian population in the event of nuclear war.
I certainly agree that there should be a type of civil defence, but as far as these Regulations apply to Scotland there should be a special meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee to discuss all these difficulties as they affect Scotland. Scotland is in a very peculiar position. I have no hesitation in saying that Scotland is now the most dangerous place to live in in the British Isles and perhaps one of the most dangerous places in the whole world as a result of the Polaris base in the West of Scotland which is vulnerable to attack and because we have concentrated within 20 miles of Glasgow a base which would inevitably result in devastating nuclear attack. We know, too, that near the Gairloch, Glasgow, there are to be stored atomic missile heads which are to be used by the Polaris submarines—
Order. I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman in his difficulty, but we really cannot discuss the whole question of civil defence on these Regulations, desirable though it may be to do so one day.
I agree with the hon. Member that that may well be desirable, but unfortunately this is not the occasion, and it cannot be done in connection with these Regulations.
I will pass on to the Regulations, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that when these Regulations get to the local authorities, the questions which will be asked by the local authority members will be more searching than those that we are asking tonight. The local authorities will have to deal with casualty services, and the immediate question in Glasgow, in Ayrshire and in all the surrounding areas of Scotland will be, "What sort of casualties are we going to be faced with?"
I remember that in a previous debate the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) estimated that if one megaton bomb were exploded over the Holy Loch the devastation would be such that it would result in the obliteration of every human being within a radius of 100 miles. That means that nearly the whole of the industrial belt of Scotland from Glasgow down to Carlisle and up to Aberdeen would have to face the possibilities of the effects of such an attack.
It is natural that local authority members, when they receive these Regulations, will ask questions which it will be very difficult to answer. Take my own local authority. I served on the Ayrshire County Council during the last war. It is a mistaken argument to say that in the last war things were not so bad. Since the last war we have a form of nuclear attack which completely destroys and obliterates every human being within 100 miles. That statement was made some years before the explosion of the latest type of Russian megaton bomb which is even more deadly.
Realistic members of town and county councils will ask, "What burden is the Minister imposing upon us? Will there be grants? Who will pay the expense, and to what extent will it result in considerable increases in local authority expenditure?"
What about the duties which will be involved? I shall take two examples. One is:
The taking of measures for the protection of persons against the effects of hostile attack".
Does that mean that the local authorities in this dangerous area will have to construct deep shelters against the effects of atomic fall-out? In The Guardian last week, there was a description of the civil defence measures taken by the American authorities. They have deep shelters. People will ask, "If Scotland is to face these devastating possibilities, is the advice which has been sent to us advice to build deep shelters?".
What would deep' shelters cost? In Coalport, millions of pounds are being spent on the building of depots for storing missiles. If we are to keep the missiles safe, what about the civil population as well? I do not know the answers to these questions.
We are told in the Regulations that another duty of the local authorities will be
The collection and first-aid care of persons injured as a result of hostile attack".
One bomb dropped over Glasgow would destroy all the hospitals. Members of local authorities will ask, "If we get the casualties into our ambulances, where will they go?". The previous Government had a plan for evacuating the civil population. I forget how many millions would have been taken to the Highlands of Scotland. I do not know what has become of that plan.
Not only will the local authorities have to make preparations for the collection of casualties, but they will have to bury the dead. No doubt, someone with a grim sense of humour will ask whether they will have to train thousands of undertakers.
The more we examine these Regulations which will be sent to local authorities, without any guidance from the Secretary of State, the more we see that, in discussing them, we are voicing the questions which are asked, and will be asked, by people all over Scotland. They want to know how the problem will be solved. Hon. Members opposite say that it would be possible to solve it by more training and the restoration of the old civil defence organisation. With respect, it is a problem beyond the possibility of human solution.
The Scottish Regulations should be withdrawn and the Government should come forward with another plan. The only plan is to take away from Scotland the reason why Scotland will be subject to nuclear attack, and it is subject to the danger of nuclear attack because it has become the centre for possible nuclear attack on another nation from the Polaris base there. I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend. I know that we are putting to him questions that he cannot answer. All the same, that is a reason why the House should give greater consideration to what is likely to happen to Scotland in the event of a nuclear attack than by this small and miserable debate at a late hour, when practically no Scots M.P.s are present.
I listened to the plea for a debate on the subject with rather more sympathy when it was made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) than when it was made by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur). At least my hon. Friend has taken the trouble to stay, despite the difficulties he described of being present on a Thursday night. [An HON. MEMBER: "So has the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire."] The hon. Member said, "Hear, hear "when it was suggested that there should be a discussion in the Scottish Grand Committee, as proposed by my hon. Friend. It was in the hands of his party to have such a debate, but it chose to pursue a political vendetta over the Highlands and Islands.
The question of the local authorities' involvement was raised. Consultations and discussions have been taking place and are still going on. We have reasonable evidence that most authorities will accept the principle of local authority staff participation and co-operation. The authorities are still expected to have the reorganisation completed by 30th September. I was asked about the future of Taymouth Castle. It will continue as one of the three Civil Defence training schools in the United Kingdom. The financing is a Home Office matter rather than one for me, but I shall check on that.
There was also a question about the general cost of the programme, with particular reference to local authority rating powers. The answer here is that the local authorities have been asked to reduce their civil defence expenditure generally in 1967–68 to 80 per cent. of that incurred in 1965–66. The Scottish saving to the Exchequer will be about £100,000. On the question of the local authority financing, the answer is that the 75 per cent. Exchequer grant—l00 per cent. in the welfare section of the services—will continue. We do not anticipate an overall increase but a reduction in the cost of this.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire went on to rather wider questions, and I should probably be out of order if I discussed them, although I listened with great sympathy. The point has been put most forcibly by hon. Members opposite and by my hon. and very dear friend the Member for South Ayrshire that there should be a debate on the subject. It is not incumbent on me to organise such a debate, but I will put the suggestion to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.