HC Deb 09 November 1953 vol 520 cc589-90
36. Mr. Ian Winterbottom

asked the Minister of Supply if any antidote has been discovered to nerve gases; and how the service of Ronald Madison, who lost his life while experimenting to this end, will be recognised.

Mr. Sandys

No complete antidote to nerve gas has yet been discovered. The test in which this fatal accident unhappily occurred was one of many thousands of similar tests carried out over a considerable number of years.

Mr. Winterbottom

Can the Minister explain how the categorial statement that an antidote had been found has made its way into the American Press by way of the British Medical Association Journal, and also inform the House how the services of this young airman, who lost his life in the course of experiments, whether successful or not, have been recognised by the Minister?

Mr. Sandys

The question of recognition of this airman would, of course, be a matter for the Secretary of State for Air. As regards the question of whether we have found an antidote or not, I know the medical publication to which the hon. Member refers. What I said was that no complete antidote had been found. A partial antidote has been found, but it is not regarded as wholly satisfactory.

Mr. Hamilton

Are the men who are subjected to these experiments volunteers, or are they compelled to do this work?

Mr. Sandys

I think I have already told the House on a previous occasion that they are entirely volunteers.