HC Deb 18 December 1973 vol 866 cc1123-4
5. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of State for Defence what details of the nature and effects of the new chemical riot control agent, CR gas, officially authorised for use in the United Kingdom have been given in the appropriate scientific journals; and if he is satisfied that they meet the requirements of the Himsworth Committee.

The Minister of State for Defence (Mr. Ian Gilmour)

A report on the nature and effects and the treatment of individuals contaminated with solutions of CR was published in Medicine, Science and the Law of October 1973. An annotation covering the same ground appeared in the British Medical Journal of July 1973. These are the first of a series of reports on the extensive medical and scientific research carried out on CR as a riot control agent which are being made available for publication in scientific journals. I am satisfied that the steps taken to secure publication of the details of the nature and effects of CR are consistent with the recommendations of the Himsworth Committee.

Mr. Allaun

Because of the obvious dangers, did not the Himsworth Committee conclude that such details should be printed immediately in the relevant scientific Press? Is it not a fact that a number of eminent professors have protested that a brief paper has been published in only one obscure paper—the one to which the right hon. Gentleman referred—and that, therefore, the release of the gas officially is premature?

Mr. Gilmour

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we are unable to direct scientific journals as to what articles they will or will not publish. There is also a certain degree of delay in their publications. We have no control over that aspect either. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's assumption is correct. As I have said, at least two articles have been published already.

Mr. Churchill

Will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of stocks of CR gas, and such other weapons as he may feel necessary, being kept readily available at London Airport so as to guard passengers and employees there from the barbaric attacks to which passengers and airport employees were subjected only yesterday in Rome?

Mr. Gilmour

Some stocks of CR gas are available both in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend will not expect me to specify the exact nature of the stocks or where they are kept.