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Nuclear Warfare (Shelters)

Volume 648: debated on Thursday 9 November 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he now proposes to introduce into this country, as part of his Civil Defence plans, family fall-out shelters, such as are now being recommended to citizens of the United States of America by the United States Federal Government.

No, Sir. The question of shelter against fall-out is kept under review, but at present my right hon. Friend thinks it is more practical, in the circumstances of this country, to make available advice on the measures that could be taken by the average householder to provide protection in or near his home.

Is the Minister aware that President Kennedy has stated in a broadcast that the American Government have embarked on a large-scale programme of fall-out shelters which it is estimated will save millions of American lives? Do not the Government want to save millions of British lives—or is the position that we cannot afford it?

We do indeed wish to save British lives. The hon. Member may be aware of some of the arrangements we have made. There is obviously no protection against a direct hit—that is generally accepted—but protection against fall-out, which is what the hon. Member is presumably referring to, can be achieved fairly easily by individual householders if they adopt the advice contained in pamphlets already issued. Particulars may be obtained from the nearest Civil Defence headquarters. But for the Government to provide a high degree of protection on a country-wide scale would involve a vast diversion of resources and effort.