HC Deb 17 April 1958 vol 586 cc347-8
45. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Prime Minister to what extent aeroplanes carrying nuclear bombs are routed over Scotland; and if he will give instructions that no aeroplane carrying nuclear bombs shall be routed over Scotland on practice or training flights.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

I explained on 25th March the general policy regarding these aircraft. It would not be right to disclose details of the routes actually taken on these occasional flights.

Mr. Hughes

To repeat the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) a moment ago, may I ask the Prime Minister when the population of this country is to be informed on these matters? Is not it a useless and wanton thing to expose the civil population to these risks? Who controls these aeroplanes, Britain or the United States?

The Prime Minister

I made a very full statement on 25th March, and I do not think I have anything to add to it.

48. Mrs. Castle

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that United States B.52, B.47 and B.36 bombers armed with hydrogen bombs are in continuous flight over the western world and to what extent these bombers are using British bases for this purpose.

The Prime Minister

The circumstances in which aircraft carry nuclear weapons over this country were explained in my statement to the House on 18th March, to which I have nothing to add.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statement which he made to the House has since been completely undermined by reports of responsible journalists in the newspapers? Has he read the report in the Manchester Guardian of 10th April by Mr. Frank Bartholomew describing world-wide control by Strategic Air Command bombers carrying hydrogen bombs, and a report in The Times of the following day of a statement by a spokesman of Strategic Air Command admitting that there are alert patrols in addition to the regular permanent patrols by Strategic Air Command bombers? Cannot we have the truth from the right hon. Gentleman?

The Prime Minister

This matter arises more completely on Question No. 52, and I ask the hon. Lady to await my Answer to that. In point of fact, there is some confusion which should be cleared up on that Question.