HC Deb 25 November 1930 vol 245 cc1079-80
34 and 35. Mr. GRAHAM WHITE

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether is he proposing, in view of the financial stringency which now obtains, to discontinue expenditure upon the utilisation in warfare of noxious and asphyxiating gases;

(2) whether the researches of the Committee on Chemical Warfare into the perfection of defensive measures against the use in war of noxious and asphyxiating gases have yet attained finality; and, if not, by what date it is anticipated that protection against such gases will have been secured?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that His Majesty's Government and other States have signed or ratified the gas protocol, outlawing the use of poison-gas in war, it is his intention to close down the chemical warfare research departments or reduce the cost of maintenance?


As I stated in my reply to the hon. Member for Birkenhead, East (Mr. White) last Tuesday, research and experiment relating to defence against gas are still being undertaken, and I am not in a position to say when finality will be reached. But I can assure the House that every endeavour is made to ensure the strictest economy in the maintenance of the establishments concerned, and the expenditure is closely reviewed in connection with annual estimates.


Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that this great expenditure is necessary, having regard to the fact that all possible users of these gases have signed a convention against their use?


Yes, I have carefully considered that, and I am not prepared to make any recommendation.


Is it not a fact that new types of gases are constantly being put forward by Continental chemists?


Is it not a fact that other countries which have signed the Gas Protocol have only experimental stations for the purpose of finding antidotes against the poison gases of other countries?


asked the Secretary of State for War how many soldiers are being experimented upon by being gassed at Porton; and what is the extra allowance in pay given for having gas tried upon them?


No soldiers are "gassed" at Porton in the ordinary sense of the word. But volunteers, averaging some six a week, undergo tests with the object of proving the efficacy of preventive and curative treatment for skin burns and of confirming the adequacy of the protection afforded by respirators. The volunteers receive extra leave, and in certain cases pay of 1s. or 6d. for each test.

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