HC Deb 20 March 1958 vol 584 c1424
47. Mr. Lewis

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a United States bomber accidentally jettisoned an unarmed nuclear weapon in Georgia on 11th March causing injury and destruction; and what discussions he has recently had with the appropriate authorities to prevent such an occurrence in Great Britain.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave on Tuesday.

48. Mrs. Castle

asked the Prime Minister what information he has received from the United States Government of the contents of the sealed orders carried by the United States bombers now patrolling over Britain with hydrogen bombs aboard.

The Prime Minister

As was stated in the Defence White Paper, operational plans are co-ordinated between Bomber Command and the United States Air Force.

Mrs. Castle

Does not the Prime Minister's reply mean that he has admitted that planes are patrolling overhead at this moment with sealed orders, to be operated instantly in the event of war? If that is so, is not it a contradiction of the pledge he gave to this House on Tuesday that there is no permanent standing patrol taking place by bombers with H-bombs at this moment for deterrent purposes?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Lady's premise was right, her conclusion might also be right, but her premise is wrong. I know of no such orders. It is perfectly clear that the operational use of bomber bases, British bases, is governed by the Governmental agreement first entered into by Mr. Attlee's Government—as he then was—and then confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) at a later stage.