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Disaster Relief

Volume 892: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to the peaceful uses of the Armed Forces on such occasions as when public disasters occur in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

The provision of Service personnel and equipment, if called upon in the event of a disaster or emergency, is a recognised means of helping the civil community both in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Will my hon. Friend give an indication of the most recent cases of involvement of Her Majesty's Forces in civil disasters? Will he also give consideration in some of our units to the setting up of special teams trained to cope with severe disasters such as at Flixborough and the London Moorgate Underground train disaster?

Help was given during the heavy flooding in East Anglia and the Home Counties in November last year. At Flixborough we provided very quickly bedding and mattresses. At Moorgate we provided overalls and a bath unit for the emergency services. Overseas, help was given in Belize and Honduras after hurricane Fifi in 1974. I have noted my hon. Friend's point about special training.