§ 62. Mr. Alex Carlile
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will specify the documents which his Department has made available to the Australian Royal Commission investigating the effects of the atomic explosions in the South Pacific during the 1960s.
§ Mr. Lee
I remind the hon. and learned Member of the reply given in the House by the Prime Minister on 15 January, when she indicated that several hundred documents had then been released to the Australian Royal Commission. The process is continuing and all unclassified documents provided to the Royal Commission will be made available in the Public Records Office at the earliest opportunity.
§ 63. Mr. Wallace
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions have taken place between his Department and the Australian Government concerning the atomic explosions in the South Pacific during the 1950s.
§ Mr. Lee
Discussions between officials of my Department and officials of the Australian Department of Resources and Energy, which has responsibilities arising from the test programmes in Australia in the period from 1952–1963, take place on a regular basis. During his recent visit to London on 12 February, Senator Evans, the Minister for Resources and Energy, discussed matters arising from the test programmes with my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement.
§ 64. Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many declassified documents have been made available to the Australian Royal Commission investigating the effects of the atomic explosions in the South Pacific during the 1950s; and how many other documents relating to this period remain classified.
§ Mr. Lee
As indicated by the Prime Minister to the House on 15 January, at that time several hundred documents relating to the test programmes and relevant to its terms of reference had been reviewed and released to the Australian Royal Commission. While many other documents relating to the test programmes remain classified, the Royal Commission is able to have limited access to this material. The process is continuing and many more documents from the records held in various Departments, the bulk of which are unclassified, have already been released.
§ 65. Mr. Beith
asked the Secretary of State for Defence why 15,000 of the 20,000 participants at the atomic tests held in the South Pacific in the 1950s who were not judged to be affected by high levels of radiation have been included in the survey being conducted by the National Radiological Protection Board.
§ Mr. Lee
The National Radiological Protection Board study, which was commissioned by the Ministry of158W Defence, in recognition of the public concern over the safety of all participants, is intended to include all those who may have been exposed to the effects of ionising radiation arising from the tests. To this end the names of participants are being supplied to the NRPB along with the records of doses experienced. It is for NRPB to decide the criteria for inclusion in the analysis, how best to deal with those with recorded exposure, and how the data is to be analysed.