HC Deb 01 August 1962 vol 664 cc577-8
31. Mrs. Hart

asked the Secretary of State for War on how many occasions members of the public 'have been invited to press the button to fire Honest John rockets in mock demonstrations at Lark-hill, Wiltshire.

Mr. Ramsden

An Honest John rocket was fired at each of the School of Artillery's open days on 27th and 28th July this year by the owner of the souvenir programme with a winning number. One rocket was similarly fired by a member of the public at a demonstration last year.

Mrs. Hart

Is it not the case that on occasions schoolboys have been invited to fire this rocket? Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that an invitation to press the button as a reward for winning a raffle ticket is compatible with the pacific intentions of the British Government?

Mr. Ramsden

The point of these open days is to arouse public interest in the Services and to establish a means of liaison between the public and the Services. The preparation of the rocket for firing is part of the normal military training. Pressing the button is rather fun for the people who attend these open days.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman say whether this apparatus was named after the Secretary of State for War?

Mrs. McLaughlin

Would my hon. Friend not agree that this is a much more satisfactory exercise for young people to undertake than many of those which they undertake with fireworks, which they are not prevented from doing, and which is much more dangerous?

Mr. Speaker

I think we are rather far away from fireworks.