HC Deb 19 July 1955 vol 544 cc204-6
45. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied that adequate precautions will be taken to prevent injury to people in other countries from clouds of radioactive dust when the British hydrogen bomb is exploded; and.if he will make a statement.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir" and to the second part "No, Sir."

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that the complacency of his reply is not shared by people outside? Is he further aware that the scientists of the world do not share his complacency on this question, and that there is no responsible person who agrees that it is yet possible to prevent air currents carrying this dust to other lands and other peoples? Would it not be more civilised to stop the experiment altogether?

Mr. Butler

The answer to the latter part of the supplementary question is, "No, Sir." The answer to the first part is that there is no question of complacency in the reply I gave on behalf of the Prime Minister, which had been most carefully thought out with the best scientific information available. The answer is, if anything, cautious but not complacent.

Mr. H. Morrison

Could the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether he is satisfied that there is no risk of trouble for other people as a result of these explosions, and whether the Government have considered holding up the experiment—by international agreement, not by us acting alone—pending the discussions at Geneva as an outcome of which we hope this business will be stopped altogether?

Mr. Butler

Naturally we all hope that the outcome of the Geneva talks will have that very desirable result, but I am afraid I could not go further than the Answer I have given this afternoon.

Mr. Morrison

On the first part of the question I put to the right hon. Gentleman, could he say whether the Government are satisfied that as a result of these explosions there is no danger to the physical well-being either of our own people or of people in other countries?

Mr. Butler

As I said in answer to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), the Answer I gave was based on the best advice that has been available to Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, I can give no further answer.

Mr. Strachey

Would not the Chancellor agree that, whatever may be the actual risk of any particular explosion, the proposal to ban further test explosions holds the field as the only practical first step in nuclear disarmament?

Mr. Butler

That question raises very wide issues. Of course there is a great deal of value in the suggestion made by the right hon. Member.