Oral Answers to Questions — Aircraft (Nuclear Bombs)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton 12:00 am, 17th December 1957

asked the Prime Minister why it is Her Majesty's Governments' policy for aeroplanes stationed in this country to carry nuclear bombs on patrol, in view of the fact that their civil defence policy is based on the expectation of getting long enough notice of the outbreak of hostilities to enable them to evacuate 12 million people.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have been asked to reply.

It seems quite possible to reconcile the fine points of distinction drawn by the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

Can the Lord Privy Seal reconcile the fact that, in civil defence, the Government are staking the lives of the people of the country on the assumption that they will have long enough to evacuate 12 million people and, in air defence, they are further risking people's lives by the danger of accident through an error of judgment starting off a world war? By acting on these two conflicting assumptions, have the Government not made clear that either their air defence policy is a panic measure which is unnecessary or their civil defence policy is a cynical sham and swindle?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No, Sir; the hon. Gentleman is very often wrong in his assumptions. The position is that discretion lies within the power of the Government in relation to the first part of the Question and, in relation to the second, we are ourselves of opinion that it is possible to have a period of notice. Therefore, it is possible to reconcile the two parts of the hon. Gentleman's question.