HC Deb 27 June 1957 vol 572 cc408-9
47. Mr. Grimond

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library of the House of Commons details of the latest medical and scientific conclusions as to the dangers from various types of atomic and nuclear weapons and industrial developments.

50. Mr. Edelman

asked the Prime Minister whether he will publish the latest report of the Medical Research Council on hydrogen bomb tests.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply. It would not be in the public interest to give details of the performance of the various types of nuclear weapons, but so far as danger from test explosions is concerned, the degree of danger from fall-out varies not so much according to the nature of the weapon as according to the manner of its detonation. The degree of danger is negligible when high air bursts are used, as they were in the recent British tests.

So far as the industrial use of atomic energy is concerned, the safety precautions taken ensure that there is less risk either to the general public or to the staff on the premises, than from many other kinds of industrial activity.

The latest report of the Medical Research Council was published in June, 1956. Figures for the measurement of fall-out are released periodically by the Atomic Energy Authority, and the two latest documents have been placed in the Library. It is wrong to suggest that there is a further report which my right hon. Friend has declined to publish.

Mr. Grimond

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply that he will consider placing reports in the Library, but does he not agree that there is considerable doubt and anxiety in the public mind over the whole question of the danger from nuclear weapons and industrial processes? Could he not consider, without giving away State secrets, issuing a simple statement of what the dangers are, and how they vary between one weapon and another and one process and another?

Mr. Butler

In so far as the matter can be simplified it has been done by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, notably in his major speech on the subject, but, of course, anything we can do to bring this home to people in simple language we shall attempt to do.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that experiments are now going on in America into the use of using beta and gamma rays for the preservation of food, and that the American Army is setting up a plant, using the radiation from by-products of nuclear fission for food preservation? In the light of that, does he not think that really too much play is being made of some of the dangers of radiation in other respects?

Mr. Butler

I should need to examine the evidence submitted by my hon. Friend before I gave a final answer.