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Nuclear Weapons (Fire Hazard)

Volume 652: debated on Thursday 1 February 1962

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue to civil defence personnel and local authorities the information concerning the effects of nuclear bombing and the subsequent fire-storms, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Willesden, West.

Information about the fire hazard and other effects of nuclear weapons is already available in official publications.

Is not the Minister of State aware that the dissemination of facts of this kind, which at the moment are published only in the New Statesman, would do much to make the public-spirited Civil Defence action at present less of a well-meaning effort or charade? Is he also aware that the Senate in America has given far wider dissemination of this information than we have? Would he consider having an organisation like the Holifield Commission to look into this matter?

I think that the hon. Gentleman should inform himself before describing the Civil Defence effort as a charade. The article in question did not in fact add to our information and it was in some respects incomplete. It did not mention a number of important factors, such as meteorological conditions and types of building construction, which tend to support different conclusions. May I say that we welcome all discussion of these matters.

Will the Minister of State prepare a popular version of these official documents on the effect of nuclear weapons, which can be given very wide distribution in public libraries and elsewhere?

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered the small pamphlets the "Hydrogen Bomb", and the one got out last year, "Civil Defence Today". Those pamphlets give in brief form a very clear picture of what might happen.

Is it not a fact that these pamphlets cannot be easily obtained by the public? One cannot get them at station bookstalls or similar places. What is the objection to putting these pamphlets into ordinary circulation and allowing people to buy them and have the opportunity of reading them? Even if they may not make complete sense, they would give the public an opportunity of seeing what the situation really is, according to the best knowledge that the Government have.

Some of these pamphlets have been on sale from time to time at bookstalls, and I think that I am right in saying that they can be obtained from local Civil Defence headquarters. I will certainly consider further my hon. Friend's suggestion.