HC Deb 06 November 1961 vol 648 cc602-3
19. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what Government stocks of dried milk are at present held; and what action he is taking to increase those stocks.

Mr. Soames

As hon. Members will know, the Government have already arranged for adequate supplies of evaporated and dried processed milk to be available for children up to one year old if contamination from radio-iodine should rise to a level at which they might be exposed to risk from drinking fresh milk.

Mr. Lipton

Would it help a potential enemy if the Government gave some facts and figures to satisfy the British public, and in particular mothers, that adequate arrangements are being made for stocking and distributing this dried milk? Or is this to be another dark secret to cover up some more deficiencies in our defence policy, of which unfortunately we have had too many examples lately?

Mr. Soames

I will not agree for a moment that there is any doubt whatever in the minds of the public at large that the Government have made ample arrangements to ensure that should the need arise the supplies will be available.

Mr. Thorpe

Can the right hon. Gentleman go into a little more detail? For how long are the Government prepared to feed people in this country at a time of radioactive emergency? May we know what sort of stocks we have, how long they will last, what other food stocks we can get, and what sort of studies the Government are making?

Mr. Soames

From the point of view of a temporary danger on account of radio-iodine, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, has a very short active life, there is no difficulty whatever. The only point at issue concerns milk. The radio-iodine has a short life and there will be no difficulty whatever in providing the necessary amount of dried or processed milk to take the place of liquid milk for those who might suffer were the levels to rise to an unacceptable limit. As regards the longer-term situation in relation to strontium-90 fall-out, as the hon. Gentleman knows, this happens many months later, and we shall be guided by the scientists as to the need and the sort of preventive measures we shall have to take where stockpiling in the interim is concerned. Whatever is necessary will be done.