HC Deb 16 July 1958 vol 591 cc1229-30
36. Mr. Gibson

asked the Secretary of State for Air to what extent there has been a change in the former instruction forbidding bombers of the United States Air Force, loaded with the hydrogen bomb, to fly over London and other large cities in the United Kingdom while on practice flights.

46. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Secretary of State for Air to what extent instructions are still in force prohibiting bombers carrying the hydrogen bomb from flying over London and over Norwich and other cities in the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

There has been no change in the earlier instructions covering this point.

Mr. Gibson

Is the Minister aware of an article, published in The Times on 8th and 9th May, which gave a detailed description of the practice of the American Air Force of flying over populated districts and which said, among other things, that at times "the beast"—meaning the H-bomb—was lock-chained in the bomber's belly, and that the target in the London area was the north-west corner of the E.M.I. factory at Hayes? Is he aware that that appeared not only in the New York Times Magazine but in The Times of London itself, and that it contradicts entirely the reply which the right hon. Gentleman has given me and the reply which the Prime Minister gave me in March?

Mr. Ward

I am not responsible for what appears in the Press. All I can do is to assure the hon. Gentleman that when aircraft fly over towns for practice radar exercises they do not carry these bombs.

Sir F. Medlicott

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his answer is reassuring, bearing in mind the fact that the advantage of flying over cities and towns must be very small when set against the disastrous consequences which could follow any mishap?