HC Deb 09 May 1962 vol 659 cc432-3
27. Mr. Gordon Walker

asked the Minister of Defence what steps he has taken to remove from nuclear weapons work any officer or man in the Armed Services who might be found to be mentally unbalanced or unreliable.

Mr. Watkinson

We have always applied very stringent selection and training procedures in the case of officers and men dealing with nuclear weapons. These ensure as far as possible that mentally unabalanced or unreliable personnel do not become engaged on such work. In any case, no one man can initiate the use of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the new measures introduced by the United States Air Force to alter the arrangements which they previously had, and which were thought generally to be pretty good, but which they now think need improving in this respect?

Mr. Watkinson

I do not underestimate the importance of the question. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we must leave no loophole. I am having it looked at again, but my first look indicates that our measures are as foolproof as they can be.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Would not any person who pressed a button which might destroy Western civilisation be mentally unbalanced?

Mr. Watkinson

That would depend on many things which are not relevant to this question.