HC Deb 30 November 1959 vol 614 cc869-70
48. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Health whether he will invite the World Health Organisation to study the rise in the incidence of leukaemia in relation to man-made radiation.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I understand that there is already liaison between the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, which has this subject under review.

Mr. Edelman

Has the attention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman been drawn to the world-wide anxiety about this matter and the statement by Mr. Perrin, the French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy, who stated that as a result of the 1957–58 tests 1,000 people will die of leukaemia and a thousand children will be born deformed? Will he recall his own figures which show that since 1948 deaths in this country from leukaemia have risen from 1,000 to over 2,000 last year? Does not that indicate an association between leukaemia and man-made radiation? Will he draw the attention of Governments, now contemplating either making new tests or reinstating old tests, to the danger to public health from such nuclear tests?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The rise in the death rate from leukaemia has been general in the world and has been going on for the last thirty years or so, long before these tests to which the hon. Gentleman refers. This is, of course, an important subject and at the next session of the United Nations Committee there is to be further discussion of the connection between radiation and leukaemia. The hon. Gentleman will have in mind that the nuclear aspect is relatively small compared with the natural background radiation and the radiation from medical and diagnostic radiology.

Dr. Summerskill

In view of the figures given by my hon. Friend and those given in Question No. 50 will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider including in the OFFICIAL REPORT the latest statement from his advisers on the subject?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I will certainly pay attention to what the right hon. Lady has said, but I might be in trouble with you, Mr. Speaker, if I anticipate my Answer to Question No. 50

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