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Hydrogen Bomb

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a new manual of Civil Defence for the guidance of Civil Defence workers, taking into account the necessary precautions against atomic and hydrogen bomb attack.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a volume of training for Civil Defence dealing with precautionary schemes of defence against the use of the hydrogen bomb.

I would refer the hon. Members to paragraph 5 (v) of the statement which I made in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow. East (Mr. Ian Harvey) on 27th May.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Home Office memorandum to the Select Committee on Civil Defence stated that 20 inches of concrete are required to prevent the lethal effects of gamma radiation following an atomic explosion? Is he aware that that is not stated in the existing Civil Defence manuals, and will he not endeavour to put an end to the present sham of Civil Defence?

I do not accept for a moment the implication of the hon. Gentleman's last sentence, and I am sorry he mentioned it. The manuals are being revised and the syllabuses adjusted to meet present conditions.

Would not the Minister agree that the most up-to-date information and instructions are necessary in order that information should be afforded on protection to help in Civil Defence?

I entirely agree, and I am pushing on as hard as I can to get the manuals revised and the syllabuses adjusted.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when the new manual will be ready?

No, I cannot say that. A full-scale review is going on, and it is difficult to give a date when it will be finished.

Will the Minister deal with certain contradictions in the statement put out by the Home Office? For instance, on the question of gamma radiation, he himself made one statement in this controversy with the Coventry City Council. It was stated that, had the fishermen remained below deck, they would have escaped the effects of gamma radiation, whereas, in this particular memorandum, it is said that 20 inches of concrete were necessary as a safeguard against such radiation. Is not that an absolute contradiction, and will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman do something to try to harmonise these various statements?

I do not accept that there is a contradiction, because the circumstances are so entirely different. On the other hand, I will certainly with great pleasure go into any points which the hon. Member likes to bring to my attention.