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Civil Defence

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 27 February 1962

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asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the Government's decision, stated in paragraph 50 of the Defence White Paper, to embark upon a scheme of dispersal of mothers and children and other people in priority classes from major centres in the event of nuclear war, he will now consider appointing a Minister of Civil Defence.

Does not the Prime Minister agree that the dispersal of large sections of the population to heaven knows what safe places in this country is such a gigantic operation that no Minister in the present Government could undertake it? Is not it time that we had a Minister to protect the civil population against the "suicide club" known as the present Cabinet?

This, again, is a matter of a suggested change of organisation. I think, in making the plans which have to be made, that it is better to use the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs in England and Wales, who is in touch in the ordinary way in his Department with local authorities who have to participate in any such plans, and the Secretary of State for Scotland who is in touch with local authorities day-by-day. This is a suggested change in that organisation by taking the matter out of the hands of those Ministers and putting it into the hands of another Minister. From my experience, such as it is, I do not think that that would make the work easier. I think that it would make the work more difficult.