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Civil Defence

Volume 12: debated on Wednesday 11 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many home defence planning posts have been filled by health authorities following the issue of his circular DA(81)9.

As far as I am aware, two regional health authorities have filled the post and I understand that several others are in the process of making appointments.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in which areas health authorities have failed to appoint home defence planning posts in accordance with his circular DA(81)9.

As no final date for appointments was given in letter DA(81)9, it is not possible to say whether health authorities have failed to make the appointment.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the type of emergencies and contingencies other than nuclear war he had in view when issuing circular DA(81)9.

Planning officers will also be concerned with the preparation of plans for the National Health Service to cope with the effects of a period of conventional war.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what overall cost is expected to arise from the appointment of home defence planning officers; and how this compares with the £35,000 per annum which is being made available to each health region.

The sum of £35,000 is intended to cover the salary and all other costs associated with the activities of the post. It will be for health authorities to determine what additional expenditure to incur on home defence.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make available in the Library copies of his circular DA(81)9 issued to regional health authorities in respect of home defence planning posts.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what security measures are being contemplated in regard to the screening of applicants for the posts of home defence planning officers within Health Service regions.

No exceptional screening measures are thought to be necessary; the planning officers will be able to discharge their duties without requiring access to highly classified material.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much money per annum the Government are setting aside for home defence planning posts; and whether any other budgets have been cut in order to accommodate this.

The sum of £400,000 from central Government funds has been allocated to the 14 regional health authorities in England. The decision to allocate funds to create planning posts was based on the Government's decision to increase spending on home defence, announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department in his statement to the House on 7 August 1980.—[Vol. 990, c. 790–795].

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many representations he has received with regard to home defence planning posts; and from which groups or individuals.

Similar representations have been received from four community health councils seeking the transfer of funds allocated to the creation of planning posts to other National Health Service activities, and from one constituency Labour Party opposing the expenditure.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will await the British Medical Association's report on "The Medical Effects of Nuclear War" before he instructs regional health authorities to make home defence planning appointments.

No. Health authorities were advised to make appointments in the Department's letter DA(81)9 dated 25 March 1981, and funds were made available from April 1981 to meet the commitment. The planning officer is not solely concerned with nuclear war plans, and his duties will also include preparation for a period of conventional war.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether regional health authorities will he compelled to comply with his predecessor's circular DA(81)9 on home defence planning posts.

My right hon. Friend has no plans to compel them to comply, but we believe that, however unlikely the possibility of war may be, it would be irresponsible and inhumane not to have plans for the Health Service to cope with the aftermath of war, either nuclear or conventional.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many regional health authorities have made appointments to home defence planning posts; how many have raised objections; how many have made appointments since raising objections; how many still have to make appointments; and whether regional health authorities will be given a deadline by which these appointments should be made.

Of the 14 English regional health authorities, two have already made appointments and several others are actively engaged in filling the vacant posts. Three authorities have declined to make early appointments but I understand that further consideration is being given to those decisions. No deadline has been set.