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Civil Defence

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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Hydrogen Bomb

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a new manual of Civil Defence for the guidance of Civil Defence workers, taking into account the necessary precautions against atomic and hydrogen bomb attack.

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a volume of training for Civil Defence dealing with precautionary schemes of defence against the use of the hydrogen bomb.

I would refer the hon. Members to paragraph 5 (v) of the statement which I made in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow. East (Mr. Ian Harvey) on 27th May.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Home Office memorandum to the Select Committee on Civil Defence stated that 20 inches of concrete are required to prevent the lethal effects of gamma radiation following an atomic explosion? Is he aware that that is not stated in the existing Civil Defence manuals, and will he not endeavour to put an end to the present sham of Civil Defence?

I do not accept for a moment the implication of the hon. Gentleman's last sentence, and I am sorry he mentioned it. The manuals are being revised and the syllabuses adjusted to meet present conditions.

Would not the Minister agree that the most up-to-date information and instructions are necessary in order that information should be afforded on protection to help in Civil Defence?

I entirely agree, and I am pushing on as hard as I can to get the manuals revised and the syllabuses adjusted.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when the new manual will be ready?

No, I cannot say that. A full-scale review is going on, and it is difficult to give a date when it will be finished.

Will the Minister deal with certain contradictions in the statement put out by the Home Office? For instance, on the question of gamma radiation, he himself made one statement in this controversy with the Coventry City Council. It was stated that, had the fishermen remained below deck, they would have escaped the effects of gamma radiation, whereas, in this particular memorandum, it is said that 20 inches of concrete were necessary as a safeguard against such radiation. Is not that an absolute contradiction, and will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman do something to try to harmonise these various statements?

I do not accept that there is a contradiction, because the circumstances are so entirely different. On the other hand, I will certainly with great pleasure go into any points which the hon. Member likes to bring to my attention.

Training Pamphlets

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what volumes of the Manual of Basic Training for Civil Defence have been published; what was the date of the last volume published; and how many volumes he proposes to publish.

Two volumes of the Manual of Basic Training for Civil Defence have been published. Volume I, which deals with the organisation, general training and war duties of the Civil Defence Corps comprises nine pamphlets, and Volume II, which includes technical information, comprises seven pamphlets. The date of the last pamphlet published is 22nd April, 1954. No new pamphlets are at present contemplated in this series, but the existing ones will be revised as necessary.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman treat this problem in the same light as the other one, because we all realise the vital importance of the Civil Defence service and the importance of keeping absolutely up to date in methods of protection?

Scotland

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent he issues directives to Civil Defence organisations in Scotland.

Is there no co-ordination between Civil Defence in England and in Scotland? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that, if there is no co-ordination, he himself wants some?

I think the hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is, in Scotland, the designated Minister for all Civil Defence purposes, apart from those for which my colleagues the Ministers of Food, Fuel and Power and Transport are the designated Ministers. My own responsibility in my native land is that I am responsible for three Civil Defence training schools, one of which, Taymouth Castle, is in Scotland, but I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman that Scottish students are given first call on places at that school.