HC Deb 09 November 1979 vol 973 cc321-2W
Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, in view of the objections being made to the proposed deployment at United States bases in East Anglia of more modern nuclear weapons designed to prevent war, if he is satisfied with the safety arrangements at these and Royal Air Force air bases, taking into account incidents such as that which occurred in 1956 at RAF Lakenheath when burning fuel from an aircraft may have come into close proximity to a bomb store containing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Pym

No final decisions have been taken by NATO on a programme to modernise the Alliance's long-range theatre nuclear forces or on where any new systems might be based.

So far as the incident at RAF Lakenheath in 1956 is concerned, the United States authorities have already stated that no nuclear materials were involved either within the crashed aircraft or in any buildings affected by the resulting fire.

The storage of all nuclear weapons in this country is and will continue to be governed by standards prescribed by United Kingdom authorities, and I am entirely satisfied with our present arrangements. I can assure my hon. Friend that storage arrangements are designed to reduce to the absolute minimum any risks of damage to weapons by fires or other incidents and that nuclear weapons include safety features which make nuclear accidents virtually impossible and extreme precautions are taken. None the less, plans exist, and are exercised regularly, to protect the civil population from any hazard.