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Civil Defence

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 27 March 1952

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Training Pamphlet


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many copies of the Civil Defence Manual of Basic Training, Volume I, Pamphlet No. 9, entitled, "Reconnaissance and Reporting," are being printed; and what is the total cost involved in its production.

I am informed that 50,000 copies of this pamphlet have been printed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office at a cost of £1,516 10s. 4d.

Does the Minister realise that this pamphlet contains countless really fatuous remarks, one of which says that a building severely damaged by a bomb usually presents an appearance of complete chaos? Would he not agree that that kind of remark is about as superfluous as saying that Lord Woolton tells lies in an election campaign.

I must ask for the withdrawal of that remark. It is not in order for hon. Members of one House to make imputations of that character about a noble Lord in another place.

I withdraw the word "lies" and substitute "grossly misleading statements."

With regard to the first part of the supplementary question, which is the only relevant part, I think that if any one of our speeches were to be subjected to having one sentence taken out of its context it might present the same somewhat platitudinous aspect; but I ask the hon. Member to read the whole of the pamphlet and to consider in a short time, when the sales of that pamphlet are determinable, how well it has gone and how much help it has given.

If the Minister will read it himself, he will find that there are numerous similar fatuous statements. Will he see to it that they do not occur in any future pamphlet of this description?

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that a few months ago, shortly before he went to the Home Office, I sent a number of specimen pamphlets on Civil Defence to the Home Office asking urgently that they should be simplified because they contained so much verbose matter. The Home Office promised to do that. Will my right hon. and learned Friend look into this matter and see that it is done in this case?

I should certainly not like to argue with my hon. Friend on any question of verbosity. I shall certainly look into his point with great pleasure.

Leaflet (Peace Pledge Union)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to a leaflet entitled "Civil Defence," published by the Peace Pledge Union; and as this leaflet is likely to cause a breach of the peace, what steps he proposes to take in respect of it.

I have seen this pamphlet. I am advised that its publication and circulation do not involve a breach of the law.

Is the Home Secretary aware that this leaflet is a shameful pacifist attack to persuade the people of this country that Civil Defence is of no use? May I ask him whether, in view of the security aspect of this matter, he will consider whether it is reasonable that these people, who refuse to take part in the defence of the country themselves, should be allowed to incite other people to do the same thing?

I am certainly prepared to go as far as to say again—which I think is the right way to deal with the point—that the suggestions in the pamphlet that nothing effective can be done in the face of atomic warfare are not only mischievous but entirely baseless and wrong. I have tried to indicate that in broadcasts and otherwise and although, as I have said, this does not involve a breach of the law, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing attention to the inaccuracies in the pamphlet.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman take into account, when considering what is charged to be the damage of these statements, that they are nothing like so damaging as the statements of the supplementary questioner in frequent speeches he used to make in this House about the Army Bill?

Will my right hon. and learned Friend consider instituting proceedings to have these persons prosecuted for causing a public mischief.

Radio-Activity (Measuring Instruments)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are being made for the training of personnel of the Civil Defence and allied services in the use of equipment designed for measuring radio-activity after an atomic attack.

Training in the practical use of this equipment began a few weeks ago at the Civil Defence technical training schools. Production orders for the necessary training versions of the special "Radiac" instruments and of the radio-active sources, with their containers, which are required for purposes of demonstrating the instruments, were given last summer, and supplies under these orders are expected to be available later in the year. They include individual measuring instruments, with charging units; portable dose-rate meters, and contamination meters.

In the meantime, I am glad to be able to say that, with the help of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply, I have been able to make arrangements for small numbers of training instruments, including some pre-production models, together with the necessary radio-active sources, to be made available in advance of the main issues to a selected number of major authorities in key areas. These authorities will begin forthwith, in their own areas, training the personnel of the Civil Defence Corps, police and fire services, and other organisations associated with Civil Defence. Later in the year, this kind of training will be extended to the whole country as equipment becomes available.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that that announcement will give very great satisfaction to the Civil Defence service?