HC Deb 26 February 1959 vol 600 cc1269-71
17. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will revise the instructions in the 1956 pamphlet on Radio-Active Fallout, No. 2 of Volume I, of the Civil Defence Manual, relating to protection by staying indoors, washing vegetables, etc., to cover the contingency of radioactive fall-out occurring in areas where windows have been shattered and walls and roofs fractured by blast, and where water supplies have been radio-actively contaminated or communications interrupted.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

If a nuclear attack took place, the areas affected by radioactive fall-out would be likely to be much greater in extent than those affected by blast. The pamphlet on public control under radioactive fall-out did not purport to deal with areas which had sustained extensive physical damage, and no revision of the kind suggested is called for.

Mr. Silverman

Having regard to what has been repeatedly admitted about the utter defencelessness of the civil population of this country in the event of nuclear war, would the hon. Lady explain to the House what is the use of talking now about protection by staying indoors and washing vegetables? Does not she consider, on reflection, that this whole business is nothing but a cold, callous, cruel fraud practised on the people of this country?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I am sure that over half a million people who are doing such noble service in the civil defence services do not share the hon. Gentleman's view. Wherever any incident occurred there would be a very wide perimeter where people could be aided and saved and where the work of a civil defence organisation which was ready to go into action could save many millions of lives.

19. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to bring up to date and relate to nuclear rocket developments the section on preparedness and public education in the pamphlet on Radio-Active Fall-Out, published in 1956, as part of Volume 1 of the Civil Defence Manual.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The assumptions made in this section are not invalidated by nuclear rocket developments.

Mr. Warbey

Will the hon. Lady agree that what matters is that the public should be properly educated and not deluded, and in view of the statement on Government military policy, reaffirmed by the Minister of Defence yesterday, will she consider issuing as part of a policy of public education a leaflet to all householders telling them that in certain circumstances the Government's policy is that they should be required to commit mass suicide?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The hon. Gentleman's comments could hardly be less helpful to civil defence. As to the first part of his supplementary question, there has been a steady development of public education in the facts about the H-bomb and the precautions that can be taken. Among the publications that have been put out have been the H-bomb booklet and the pamphlet,"Home Defence and the Farmer". I cannot repudiate too strongly the suggestions either that we have not put the facts before the public or that civil defence would not make a very great contribution in time of emergency.