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Civil Defence

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

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Biological Warfare (Protection)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken, and is taking, to instruct civil defence units in defence against bacteriological warfare.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs
(Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)

A pamphlet on "Biological Warfare" has already been issued for the use of heads of sections of the Civil Defence Corps and qualified civil defence instructors which describes in general terms the essentials of biological warfare and sets out the basic principles of personal and collective protection against it. The subject is also included in the curriculum of the Civil Defence Technical Training Schools for the information of instructors who in turn pass the information on to civil defence volunteers.

Are the results of the recent experiments in the Bahamas with H.M.S. "Lomond" to be circulated, or are they to furnish a Whitehall pigeon-hole?

That is another question. I wish the hon. Member would put it down on the Order Paper.

Anglo-Scottish Co-Operation


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements for co-operation exist between Civil Defence Services in Scotland and in England.

There is the closest co-operation between myself and the Secretary of State for Scotland and between the Scottish Departments and the English Departments at all levels. In particular, the Civil Defence Joint Planning Staff act for both countries and the Ministerial Committee over which I preside is responsible for co-ordinating action on all matters of policy.

As I gather from the Home Secretary that this unification exists only administratively, may I ask whether there is also a corresponding unity and inter-change at the working level? Does it not seem absurd to him that while there should be unity of command in the case of offensive weapons we should have this separation of command where civil defence of the population is concerned?

As regards the second part of the hon. Member's question, I would be very slow to accept from one of my countrymen that all of my countrymen would agree to lose their independence on any subject. I assure the hon. Member that, in addition to administrative matters, we are considering the arrangements which he has in mind for mutual reinforcement and the like.

Fire Stations (Location And Siting)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of its general importance to civil defence, he will appoint a committee to examine and report upon the location and siting of fire stations.

No, Sir. The peace and war-time considerations are quite different. For peace-time purposes it is necessary for fire stations to be situated close to the risks they protect. As I stated in the civil defence debate on 5th July, the war-time fire service will be nationalised and essentially mobile, with the bulk of the personnel and equipment organised in mobile columns available for operation anywhere.

Will the Home Secretary agree that the possibility of atomic warfare has entirely changed the nature of the demand likely to be made on civil defence, and that an essential part of the structure of civil defence lies in the fire stations? In view of this, will the Home Secretary look at this problem again, whether or not he accepts this as a solution?

Certainly. As I have told the House, I am going into the whole matter and I shall be very glad to pay special attention to what the hon. Gentleman has said. I should be grateful if he would perhaps elaborate his idea a little more.

When looking into this problem will my right hon. and learned Friend take into account the facilities in the control of local industries because the great cost of maintaining fire brigades throughout the country could be minimised to a great extent if full account was taken of the fire-fighting equipment stationed throughout the various industrial establishments?