Historical Background to Emergency Measures
The Public Safety Conservation Act of 1932 dealt with emergencies. It empowered the declaration of a state of emergency in certain circumstances, including natural disasters, authorised the making of special emergency regulations, and bestowed certain emergency powers on police officers for the purpose of preserving life, protecting property, and maintaining order. In 1939 the Government instituted the Emergency Precautions Scheme based on local authorities' emergency organisations, with the double object of providing protection against natural disaster or enemy action. The next major move was the passing of the Local Authorities' Emergency Powers Act of 1953 which empowered local authorities to make plans for emergencies arising within their respective districts and to assume extraordinary powers in the event of an emergency. The Government at that time also made firm plans for the coordination of relief measures in major disasters.
The White Paper Review of Defence 1958 expressed the Government's intention to establish a Ministry of Civil Defence, which would be responsible for planning and coordinating necessary measures against the threat of attack by conventional or nuclear weapons and against the risk of natural disaster.