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Atomic Energy Project (History)

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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asked the Prime Minister if he will now carry out the undertaking given by Her Majesty's Government to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, some years ago that an official British record should be published of nuclear research; if he will include in such a record a description of the contributions made by Professors Rutherford, Cockcroft, Hill, Fowler, Robert Watson-Watt, of the part played by Tube Alloys, Metropolitan Vickers at Manchester and Rhydymwyn-Mold, Imperial Chemical Industries, Sir Henry Tizard's Mission and of the importance of the black box; and if he will publish the minutes of the Maud Committee and papers containing the United States request to co-operate with the British.

I have been asked to reply.

The Atomic Energy Authority recently appointed an archivist and historian, one of whose main tasks will be to prepare a history of the United Kingdom atomic energy project. It is the Authority's desire and intention, subject to the public interest, that the history should be published, and the matters referred to by the hon. Member will no doubt be given due weight.

In relation to the minutes of the Maud Committee, I see no reason for varying the normal rule that public records are not made available until fifty years after they were originated.

Will the Home Secretary, first, convey to the Prime Minister my appreciation of the courteous letter he sent to me about his inability to be present? Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the responsible authority which is to compile this official report to see that credit is also given to the ordinary working men who played such a great part in difficult circumstances during the war and also to the gentleman who is now sitting in the Peers Gallery for the part which he played when France collapsed?

I will certainly convey to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the hon. Member's appreciation of his letter, in relation to the preoccupations of an international character which are occupying the Prime Minister this afternoon. As to the rest of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I think that some of it would be out of order in taking cognisance of somebody who is not in our presence, but I am obliged to the hon. Member for those observations.