Suspension of Civil Defence Acts

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Suspension of Civil Defence Acts

The Cabinet discussed on 23 August 1945 whether to introduce legislation suspending the obligations that the Civil Defence Acts had imposed on local authorities and others to make preparations against the risk of air attack.  They discussed whether it was necessary to maintain a system of air-raid precautions, given the new world organisation and given that, at that stage, little was known about the effects and the future of the atomic bomb.  They also discussed whether it would be less alarming to public opinion both in the UK and abroad if a nucleus of the system were retained rather than having to set up a whole new system later if the need arose.  They also discussed whether consideration should be given to civil defence aspects when constructing new buildings, particularly in respect of protection against fire risk rather than as air-raid shelters.  

The following extracts give a flavour of what was said in Cabinet:

H.M.  

Atomic bomb has changed sitn. 

C.E.  

Nucleus organisation in country.  That was not
  taken up with Ty.  Diff. to revive on threat of war:  wd. like
  therefore skeleton organn in country.  Want further rpt. to
  Cab. on that.

G.T.  

Our responsib. for Govt. Dpts. - same duties as H.O. impose on
  public.  The method of future defence will have to be
  considered.  But we want guidance on erection of new bldgs. 
  Steel frame with cellars e.g. - shd. tht. be carried on with
  stronger cellars:  in new Post Offices etc.  Shd. we give a lead? 
  On basis that it is wise precautn when putting up any new
  bldg. in certain areas.

W.A.J.  

Bad timing to introduce Bill contemplatg. prepns v. air attack.
  Inconsistent with faith in W. Organisation.

G.T.  

Not only good for shelter - good also r. fire.

P.M.  

Put it on fire risk rather than a.r.p.

H.M.  

Doubt wtr. WAJ. argument is sound.  We shan´t be in a safe world.
  And easier to continue existg. provn than to start it de novo
  in time when we do fear early war.

E.Sh.  

Two points  a)  relieve people of imposs. obligns.  No diffy. over that.
     b)  prepn for future.  Will need careful review:  Need only
      say overhaul in light of new circs.

J.J.L.  

Much experience of this in recent years.  Pity to let it all go without
  effort to hold it in nucleus organn.
  No great furore if H.O. said intended to keep somethg. going.  Much
  easier than to start it up again in a few years´ time.

Taken from C.M. 25(45) - Meeting held on 23 August 1945.