To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will identify(a) liaison arrangements between his Department and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation civil emergency planning boards and committees, concerning civil emergency and home defence planning, and (b) the extent of collaborative work carried out with these bodies; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
My Department liaises with the NATO food and agricultural planning committee by attending the twice-yearly meetings of this body and its working group, and by participating in exercises which take place annually and training sessions held every other year. Representation is at United Kingdom Civil Service grade 7 level; in addition at present a MAFF grade 5 official chairs the committee. The work of the committee consists of exchanging information about civil emergency planning, within its field, in the member nations, identifying any action required by NATO and planning to carry this through. The work forms an essential part of the United Kingdom contribution to NATO and is a valuable aid to United Kingdom national civil emergency planning.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will indentify the terms of reference of work on(a) civil emergencies and (b) home defence planning carried out in his Department, the number of staff involved and the annual budgets for 1985–86, 1986–87 and 1987–88; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
Most of the work on these items by my Department is carried out under programme 52 of the ministerial information in MAFF (MINIM), and the relevant information can be found in the published MINIM report, a copy of which is available in the House Library.
For this programme, the details are:
- 1. To maintain contingency plans to safeguard supplies of essential foods during civil emergencies; implement plans and respond to the needs of food and agriculture during emergency.
- 2. To plan, in conjunction with other Departments and interests in the UK and within the NATO Alliance, to feed the population in times of crisis, conventional war and recovery after nuclear attack in the light of planning assumptions laid down centrally by Ministers.
- 3. To maintain in good condition a strategic food stockpile of a size, composition and distribution determined in accordance with central government policy.
The number of man-years involved on civil emergencies in 1985–86, 1986–87 and 1987–88 was 19, 18 and 20 respectively, and the budgets costs were £0.3 million, £0.3 million and £0.4 million.
The number of man-years involved on defence planning in 1985–86, 1986–87 and 1987–88 was 64, 61 and 63 respectively, the budget costs were £13.1 million, £13.4 million and £13.4 million. In addition, the cost of accommodating the strategic food stockpile is in the region of £10 million per year.231W
Other work, on civil accidents, is carried out under programme 35, where the terms of reference areTo review and update national and international procedures for food safety in the event of a nuclear or non-nuclear accident.
Information on the numbers of staff and budgets for this work is not separately available.