HC Deb 01 May 1968 vol 763 c1095
29. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give an assurance that United States aircraft which overfly the United Kingdom carrying hydrogen or atom bombs will be required to obtain prior permission from Her Majesty's Government on each occasion; and if he will inform Parliament each time such permission is granted.

Mr. Healey

The answer to the first part of the Question is that we receive advance notification of every flight. The answer to the second part is: No.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Are not the public entitled to know? Despite safeguards, can anyone, including the Minister, give a 100 per cent. guarantee that no nuclear explosion can take place? Would not the best safeguard be to stop the flights altogether?

Mr. Healey

I can give as good an assurance that no nuclear explosion can take place as it would ever be possible to give under technological circumstances. I can assure my hon. Friend that if it were not for the existence of the Western nuclear deterrent, which depends in part on these flights, the likelihood of a large number of nuclear explosions taking place in a general war would be much increased.