HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1368-9
25. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether in view of the short supplies, he will arrange for the production of vaccine for use against Hong Kong 1968 flu at Porton and Nancekuke.

Mr. John Morris

It is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to decide whether any special arrangements are necessary for the production of vaccine. I understand that he has not asked for help from the Microbiological Research Establishment because in his view the necessary production, testing and distribution processes could not be completed in time for the final product to be available for use against any outbreak which may occur this winter. M.R.E. has facilities for producing only the primary material in bulk. Nancekuke is not equipped for biological work.

Mr. Dalyell

Could not Porton have taken the initiative in this matter?

Mr. Morris

This is entirely a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. If we had been asked to produce anything from Porton, we would have been, and are, willing to oblige any request from my right hon. Friend, but we have not been asked.

Mr. Michael Hamilton

Will the Minister remember that Porton is fully occupied in protecting the population against germs far more serious than influenza?

Mr. Morris

I am aware of the load at Porton, but if there were a specific request, and we had the capability to meet it, we would have met any request from my right hon. Friend. The answer to the question is that we have not had such a request.