HC Deb 18 July 1961 vol 644 cc1051-2
36. Mr. Mason

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science to what extent the Atomic Energy Authority is concerning itself with the development of instruments and systems to detect nuclear explosions both underground and in space; what form these developments are taking; and what prospects there are of a fully effective detection system being devised.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

The Atomic Energy Authority is pursuing two main lines of approach: seismic studies for earth-based explosions, and studies of the ionic and optical changes in the upper atmosphere which would occur as a result of explosions in space. Progress towards a fully effective detection system would be faster if all three countries taking part in the Nuclear Tests Conference were pooling their efforts in a coordinated programme of research, as Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government have repeatedly urged.

Mr. Mason

Is the Minister aware that the Atomic Energy Authority seems to have stepped up its research in this field? Is this due to Government optimism in expecting a test agreement soon or is it that they suspect that Russia has tested underground or in space and that we have to speed up our efforts to try to detect these tests?

Mr. Freeth

Naturally, the Government still hope that it will still be possible to make progress in the Geneva talks, but research of this kind is equally essential if we are to have an adequate system of international inspection.