HC Deb 25 March 1957 vol 567 cc799-800
26. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health, as representing the Lord President of the Council, on how many occasions the Committee on Nuclear Hazards, appointed by the Medical Research Council, has met since its Report was published last June; and what was the purpose of the meetings.

Mr. Vosper

The Medical Research Council has for long been advised upon research on the effects of radiation by its Committee on Protection against Ionizing Radiation and its sub-committees. These have met at frequent intervals since the publication of the Report and have considered, in the light of the most recent evidence, what further research may be required, for example on the effects of strontium 90. In view of the fact that, with the exception of the geneticists, almost all the scientists who served on the special committee which prepared the Medical Research Council Report are also members of the Protection Committee, it was decided, after consultation with the members, that it was not necessary for the time being to call a meeting of the full Committee. The panel on the genetic consequences of radiation has met on one occasion and has made recommendations for a greatly increased programme of research which has now been approved by the Medical Research Council.

Mrs. Castle

Is it not a fact that every time we on this side of the House raise the question of changes in emphasis on the dangers from nuclear explosions we are told that the Medical Research Council Report of June, 1956, is still the guide of the Government in this matter? Will not the Minister give an assurance that an amended report will be issued in the light of these continuing investigations, so that this can be an annual affair and the House may know the exact scientific nature of the recommendations which are being made?

Mr. Vosper

I will convey that point to my right hon. and noble Friend. Of course, the absence of a report does not mean that research and committee work are not going on.

Dr. Summerskill

In view of the most recent statement which has come from Bermuda that agreement has been reached about testing H-bombs "with due restraint," would the right hon. Gentleman ask the advisory committee of the Medical Research Council if it would define that expression in order that he can explain it to the House on a subsequent occasion?

Mr. Vosper

I think that question is a long way from the Question asked by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle).