HC Deb 05 March 1959 vol 601 cc622-4
46. Mr. Moss

asked the Prime Minister whether he has now considered the paper on environmental radioactivity, by the Coventry city analyst, read to the Warwickshire Clean Air Council, a copy of which has been sent to him; and if, in view of the anxieties expressed in the final paragraph and the facts quoted on page 5, he will take steps to have measurements of radioactivity taken locally and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I have seen the paper to which the hon. Member refers.

As the House knows there is a national programme for the monitoring of fallout. It is designed to provide reliable data for assessing the extent to which the population as a whole is exposed to fallout. The results are published each year and do not give cause for concern. I am advised that measurements of general environmental radioactivity taken locally would not add materially to the value of these results in relation to the dangers mentioned in the paper.

Mr. Moss

I am sorry, but I did not hear the whole of the Answer. May I ask whether the Prime Minister is aware that the rainfall varies locally and that if the rain has become radioactive the radioactivity may therefore vary locally? In view of the fact that in future medical officers of health may have to trace the sources of radioactive contamination, would not it be a good idea that they should take these measurements through rainfall in co-operation with the Atomic Energy Research Establishment?

The Prime Minister

I think that the arrangements for making all these scientific calculations are very complete and give general satisfaction to the scientists who have to study them. But if there is any particular point—and these are rather complicated questions—on which the hon. Member would like to speak to me or get in touch with me, I will try to give what attention I can to what he has in mind.

Mr. Moss

I thank the right hon. Gentleman.

Dr. Stross

Is it not, however, the fact that this is an additional form of both atmospheric and ground pollution and that local authorities are rightly anxious about this matter? In view of the fact that the apparatus is not expensive to buy, should not these authorities be encouraged to take steps to guard against any dangers and keep the Ministry of Housing and Local Government fully informed so that we shall better know what is happening throughout the country?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. We have to be careful that we keep this very highly scientific question in the hands of those who are really the most suited to deal with it, but I will see whether any information can be made available or any improvements made which would have general assent.

Dr. Summerskill

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a fairly simple question? As he has said, food supplies in this country are examined, but is he aware that none of the food which is imported from countries where there is radioactivity and where the food supply is suspect is examined before being consumed in this country? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with that state of affairs?

The Prime Minister

I think that this point is met by the fact that where strontium appears at all, to however small a degree, it is almost entirely in milk or green vegetables, and the import of these commodities into this country is really small, if not negligible.

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