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Civil Defence

Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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asked the Minister of Defence, in view of paragraphs 39 to 42 of the Defence White Paper, to what extent he discussed developments in civil defence with the United States Minister of Defence during the latter's recent visit: and what changes he proposes.

Is it not rather extraordinary that no question of defending the civil population should have been discussed between Mr. McNamara and the Minister? Is he aware that today's papers carry a statement by Mr. McNamara that 50 million people might be killed if an H-bomb were to hit the U.S.A. and that 10 million people could be saved by deep shelters and a defence policy based on that? Are we to assume, then, that the United States Government think these are essentials and what Mr. Kennedy says are the minimum for survival, but that our Government are doing nothing about it?

On the contrary, earlier this year in the defence debate a considerable increase in expenditure on civil defence was announced.

Does the right hon. Gentleman still stand by statements by himself and all his predecessors in that office that in the event of nuclear war the civil population of this country could not be defended at all? Is that still true?

The general proposition that there is not yet satisfactory defence against the missile remains, and, therefore, if the missile is carrying a nuclear warhead, there is no means of stopping its arrival. However, of course, certain measures could be taken to minimise loss of life and casualties. Those steps are being taken, apparently, in the U.S.A., and will be taken here.