HC Deb 26 February 1959 vol 600 c1268
7. Mr. W. Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the 50 hydrogen bombs assumed, in the civil defence exercises conducted on 11th May in Preston, Birmingham, and Leeds, to have been dropped in this country, were assumed to have been hydrogen bombs of from one to five megatons, how many of from five to 10 megatons, and how many of 10 megatons or over.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

In this long and widespread exercise only a proportion of the weapons were assumed to be in the megaton range. No bombs were assumed to be of from one to five megatons; 18 bombs were of less than 10 megatons, and 13 bombs were assumed to exceed this size.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the hon. Lady aware that if there is one thing upon which the scientific experts agree in this matter it is that if six bombs in the 10 megaton range were dropped on densely populated areas about 10 million deaths would result and an area 10 miles across would be made desolate? What is the sense of trying to make people believe that the Home Office is serious about civil defence in the light of knowledge of this kind?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I do not entirely accept what the hon. Member says. The effect produced by any given weight of attack would depend upon many variable factors, such as the weather and the wind, especially in relation to fall-out. Most important, it would depend upon the extent of the preparations made in advance, and to that end civil defence would play an absolutely vital part.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Can the hon. Lady say what area of the country was estimated to be totally devastated in this exercise.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

Not without notice.

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