HC Deb 22 February 1982 vol 18 cc279-80W
Mr. Wheeler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the result of his re-examination of the use of X-rays to assess the age of prospective immigrants.

Mr. Whitelaw

I asked the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Henry Yellowlees, to re-examine this question in the light of the reaction to the earlier findings set out in his report of April 1980. He has now advised me that, although t he risk from bone X-ray examinations remains negligible, they are unlikely to provide more accurate evidence of age than the assessment of other physical characteristics of an individual, and therefore can add little to the general clinical examination of which they form one part.

In consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, I have therefore concluded that such X-ray examinations are of limited value and their continued use in the immigration context can no longer be justified. Accordingly, instructions have been issued that X-rays should no longer be used for this purpose at our posts abroad and similar advice is being conveyed to those doctors concerned in the United Kingdom. I am placing copies of the advice from the Chief Medical Officer in the Library of the House