HC Deb 27 February 1963 vol 672 cc1234-5
9. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that crews of V-bombers carrying hydrogen bombs in round-the-clock patrols at times of world tension do not release their bombs through misinterpreting signals or through other kinds of mistake;

(2) if, in order to reduce world tension, especially at times of crisis, he will reverse the decision that V-bombers should carry hydrogen bombs in round-the-clock patrols.

Mr. H. Fraser

No decision has been taken that V-bombers should carry hydrogen bombs in round-the-clock patrols.

The most stringent precautions are taken to exclude the possibility of a hydrogen bomb being released from a V-bomber either through misunderstanding or accident.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Secretary of State aware that I am very pleased to hear that, because it conflicts with the widespread Press reports to the contrary? Does he not think that such flights being put into operation would heighten world tension at the very moment when the Government should be doing everything possible to reduce tension? Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten the instance when the radar screens somehow picked up the rising of the moon and bombers were dispatched towards the point of no return?

Mr. Fraser

I am certain of one thing: measures to increase the effectiveness of the deterrent will reduce, and not increase, the possibility of tension.

Mr. Mason

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that only in extreme circumstances should there be any live bomb patrols? If Fylingdales does its work properly and can give four minutes' warning—and since Bomber Command has been practising the 90-second takeoff—surely there is no reason at all why live bombs should be carried, except in extreme circumstances.

Mr. Fraser

I was talking about the extreme situation.

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