HC Deb 09 July 1957 vol 573 cc192-5
45. Mr. Beswick

asked the Prime Minister to what extent the most recent advice from the Medical Research Council in regard to radiation hazards from the fall-out resulting from nuclear weapon tests represented the unanimous opinion of the committee appointed by the Medical Research Council to report on the hazards to man of nuclear and allied radiation.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The most recent advice from the Medical Research Council has been given after full consideration of the available scientific evidence and the various views which have been expressed regarding its significance, and after consultation with the Council's expert advisers and committees. As I have stated previously, there has been no full meeting of the committee which produced the Report on the Hazards to Man of Nuclear and Allied Radiations since its publication in June, 1956, but I am assured that there is no reason to modify in any important respect the conclusions reached at that time.

Mr. Beswick

Are we to understand, therefore, that not only has there been no recent report from the full committee but that the Report to which the Prime Minister referred itself underlines the incomplete character of the evidence before the committee? In view of the fact that some individual members of the committee have expressed their concern about information which has come to light since the Report was published, does not the Prime Minister think that he was ill-advised to give such categorical and definite assurances as he has given in this House?

The Prime Minister

The evidence is under continuous review, of course, by a special sub-committee of the Council's committee concerned with protection against ionising radiations.

Mr. Blenkinsop

In view of the claims made for the recent bomb tests both by this country and the United States, is not it vital that we should have a complete revision of the earlier investigation made by the Medical Research Council?

The Prime Minister

That is why this process of revision is continuing.

47. Mr. Royle

asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to Recommendation 140 (1957) of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe on nuclear and thermonuclear test explosions; and what action is being taken thereon by Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

This Recommendation of the Consultative Assembly was submitted to the Committee of Ministers at the Council of Europe, whose Deputies considered it at a meeting on 24th–28th May. They decided not to support the Recommendation but to inform the Assembly that a conference of the type requested has already been set up by the United Nations.

Mr. Royle

In view of the anxiety which is expressed in this Recommendation by other European countries who may be themselves on the verge of production, will the Prime Minister intimate that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to agree to the setting up of a committee of European scientists? Further, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he agrees, in view of the recent explosion by the United States of America and what appears to be the failure of the present discussions on nuclear tests at the disarmament conference, that it is time that somebody took the moral leadership? Why should not this country make up its mind not to have any more tests?

The Prime Minister

I do not know that there is any great moral leadership in setting up a committee. It is only a question whether this expert work had better be done by a committee of the Council of Europe or by the United Nations Committee on Radiation Hazards. In view of the fact that the Ministers of the Council of Europe decided that on the whole it was better not to duplicate this work but to rest upon the United Nations committee, I think the hon. Gentleman will see that it would be difficult for Her Majesty's Government to dissent from their view.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

When may we expect the White Paper on the work of the United Nations Sub-Committee that the Government promised us last week?

The Prime Minister

That is another question. If the right hon. Gentleman will put it down, I will do my best to answer it.

Mr. Noel-Baker

If we are to debate this White Paper next week, is it not becoming rather urgent?

The Prime Minister

That is why I suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should put a Question on the Paper.