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Civil Defence

Volume 648: debated on Thursday 9 November 1961

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28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action is being taken and contemplated, on a more ambitious scale than has so far been the case, to convince men and women willing to serve the community in Civil Defence that it is a worth-while job, by seeing that they have an adequate supply of up-to-date equipment.

Under the revised programme of home defence preparations announced in this year's Defence White Paper, more training equipment of many kinds is being supplied for the Civil Defence Corps and the emergency fire service, and the stockpiling of operational equipment for these and other essential services is continuing. The provision of emergency communications is also being developed.

Is it not a fact that we have heard that sort of promise for many years? Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware of the frustration of some Civil Defence volunteers? Will he bear in mind that at Crayford, for instance, the unit has to share a utility vehicle with Bexley and Erith? Would he not help them at least to decide who gets the priority if the balloon goes up, Erith, Bexley or Crayford, for the one utility van?

The disposition and use of any particular equipment within any particular Civil Defence authority is a matter for that authority, but, as the hon. Member knows, in this year's Defence White Paper we have increased expenditure by 20 per cent. I know from my own observation by visiting Civil Defence authorities that there is now a fairly plentiful supply of training equipment. If the Kent County authority has any shortage it should make representations to us and we shall see what we can do about it.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that quite a number of people are still retaining their gas masks from the last war? Will he give some instructions in that respect?