HC Deb 06 November 1962 vol 666 cc796-7
Q3. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister what reports he has now received from his scientific advisers on the consequences of the present United States and Soviet series of atmospheric tests.

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, the Government continue to receive regular monitoring reports of fall-out radioactivity in air, water and diet. Towards the end of August there was an increase in the amount of the short-lived iodine 131 isotope in milk, but the levels recorded have been considerably lower than those obtaining last year. The average of the levels recorded over the past twelve months amounts to less than one-sixth of the annual average level Which the Medical Research Council has advised is acceptable.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the resolution passed yesterday at the United Nations Political Committee by eighty votes to nil, can the Prime Minister say whether Her Majesty's Government are now ready to sign an agreement banning all nuclear tests as from 1st January next, provided that the verification of seismic events is undertaken by an international scientific commission?

The Prime Minister

That, roughly speaking, is the position which we have been trying to argue. What we hope to get is a comprehensive agreement, including the underground tests as well as the atmospheric and under-water tests. Up to now, that has broken down or been delayed on the question of international verification. In addition, the President of the United States and the British Government have joined to offer to make a ban of all atmospheric tests as a separate matter. That is revelant to the Question which the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked, because it is from the atmospheric tests that the possibility of dangerous fall-out comes.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Can the Prime Minister tell us what conclusions he reached about the evidence of high altitude tests given by Sir Bernard Lovell, Sir Robert Watson-Watt and other scientists, and what action he took about it?

The Prime Minister

I prefer that question to be put upon the Order Paper. In these scientific matters, one wants to be sure before giving an answer. I would sooner not answer off the cuff.

Mr. Noel-Baker

When I asked the Prime Minister the same question a little while ago, he gave me the same answer and said that he would consider the matter. Will he now say whether he will consider it?

The Prime Minister

If the right hon. Gentleman wants me to give what, I think, is called a scientific evaluation, I should prefer to have the question on the Order Paper to be sure that my reply was completely correct in all particulars.