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Bacteriological Research (Defence Expenditure)

Volume 530: debated on Monday 12 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Supply in view of the need for economy in defence expenditure, what steps he is taking to reduce expenditure on preparations for bacteriological warfare.

We are at present reviewing the entire field of defence expenditure with the object of effecting economies wherever practicable. Expenditure on bacteriological research is being examined along with expenditure on other aspects of defence.

In view of the wording of the hon. Member's Question, I should make it clear that our preparations are not "for" but "against" bacteriological warfare.

In view of the Minister's assurance that the preparations are purely defensive preparations, will he not advise the economy of transferring this bacteriological business from the Ministry of Supply to the Ministry of Health?

This is one of the many bees which the hon. Member has buzzing about in his bonnet. He has asked that question I do not know how many times. He has been assured that this is primarily a defence matter, to make arrangements and to conduct research to protect our people against such an abominable form of warfare should it occur.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House when this review of defence expenditure will be completed, and the House informed of the results?

We are constantly trying to reduce expenditure. I have no doubt that some statement will be made in due course. I was not referring to any statement to be made in the immediate future.