HC Deb 15 December 1960 vol 632 cc593-4
60. Mr. D. Jones

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what percentage of strontium 90 is contained in wheat and other foodstuffs imported into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Vane

The latest figures available for the strontium 90 content of imported wheat and other foodstuffs are those given in Report No. 3 by the Agricultural Research Council Radiobiological Laboratory on Strontium 90 in Human Diet in the United Kingdom, 1959. A copy of this Report, which was published on the 30th September this year, is in the Library of the House. It would be misleading to quote these figures without the explanatory text.

Mr. Jones

Will the Minister tell us the comparative figures for food produced in this country?

Mr. Vane

As I said in my original reply, without looking at the Report and seeing the whole range of figures quoted and the conclusions thereon, it would be merely misleading to try to compare figures selected at random.

Mrs. Braddock

Could the hon. Gentleman tell us if it is a fact that the figures produced by the Ministry of Agriculture show that there is five times the amount of strontium 90 in wheat imported from the Soviet Union as there is in wheat from this country?

Mr. Vane

That is correct. As the hon. Member has quoted it I can say it is correct, but I think it misleading to accept that as necessarily adding a great deal to the strontium 90 in our diet. Hon. Members should look at the conclusions in this Report, by which they will see that on average the content of strontium 90 in our diet is something like one-twentieth or less of the permitted amount.

Mr. Prior

Is not that a reason for stopping the import of wheat and barley from Russia?

Mr. Vane

That is another question, but the wheat imported from Russia is an extremely small fraction of the wheat consumed in this country.