HC Deb 12 November 1957 vol 577 c780
54 and 55. Mr. F. Anderson

asked the Prime Minister (1) by whose decision the public generally was informed of the radioactivity dangers arising out of the accident to Windscale No. 1 Pile; and why the warning was not given to the public until almost 24 hours had elapsed;

(2) on what date and at what time the school authorities in the Windscale area were informed of the radioactivity dangers arising from the accident on 10th October.

The Prime Minister

The general public and the school authorities were not directly informed at the time of the accident because at no time did the measured radioactivity in the air or on the ground approach a level at which the public might be at risk. This is made clear in the White Paper published on Friday.

Mr. Anderson

Is it not a fact that the decision could not be taken locally, as to when information should be given to the public but had first to be referred to the headquarters of the A.E.A.? May I ask if the responsibility for giving notice to the public rests entirely with the local management at Windscale?

The Prime Minister

On that point I should like notice. With regard to the general question, I think the House accepted broadly the policy which I put forward on Friday to deal with this matter. The White Paper gave very full information on the whole range of the problems involved and I look forward to the work which Sir Alexander Fleck will do in his three Committees to correct any procedure which is wrong or to tighten any weakness that reveals itself.

Mr. Woodburn

On a future occasion would the Prime Minister pay tribute to the heroism exhibited by some scientists in preventing this from becoming a real disaster, and express appreciation of what has been done?

The Prime Minister

I did that in my statement on Friday, but I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman should give me an opportunity of repeating that tribute.