HC Deb 22 June 1955 vol 542 cc1288-9
11. Mr. Dodds

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what arrangements have now been made by the Meteorological Office for studying the problem of weather modification.

13. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider carrying out the rain-making experiments which the Meteorological Office propose to undertake this summer off the coast, so that, if successful, the clouds will precipitate their rain over the sea instead of over the land, thus giving more hours of sunshine on the land.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

I hope that field trials will begin in the near future. Early results cannot be expected since careful measurements over a long period will be necessary to detect any increase in rainfall over that which would have occurred naturally. We cannot make these tests off the coast because we could not arrange for the necessary measurements of rainfall to be made. Indeed, there is at present no reliable method of measuring rainfall at sea.

Mr. Dodds

Where are these experiments to take place? Can the Minister give an assurance that they will in no way destroy any hope of our getting a little sun this summer?

Mr. Ward

I have already announced that these experiments will be made on Salisbury Plain. As regards the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, of course there is no question of turning fine weather into rainy weather, but merely of increasing rain which probably would have fallen anyway.

Mr. de Freitas

Since these experiments may succeed, has consideration been given to the legal implications of a deluge which is created in circumstances in which the Meteorological Office claims that in law it is not an act of God?

Mr. Ward

We are watching the legal position very carefully.

14. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what he has done to bring to the notice of farmers the Meteorological Office's Special Service No. 6 under which, in return for a small fee, farmers can be notified of the likelihood of fine or drying weather to enable them to plan their work.

Mr. Ward

The service is brought to the notice of farmers through the National Agricultural Advisory Service and in farming publications. It has also been referred to in broadcasts about farming, and pamphlets giving details of this and of other meteorological services of special interest to farmers are distributed at the main agricultural shows. I am grateful to the hon. Member for this opportunity to add to the publicity.