Written Answers. - Public Nuclear Shelters.

494.

asked the Minister for Defence if it is proposed to embark on a construction programme of public nuclear shelters; and if any such shelters exist currently for the benefit of the Army.

My Department's policy as regards shelter for the population against the possibility of an outbreak of nuclear warfare is based on the premises that, in this event, the most likely hazard will be radio-active fallout caused by nuclear explosions abroad rather than direct strikes on this country by nuclear weapons. This premise, allied to the consideration that shelters at or near a strike area offer virtually no prospect of protection against the effects of nuclear weapons, has led the Department to concentrate their attention and efforts on shelter against the hazard of fall-out.

For that purpose, special purpose-built shelters are not necessary. Indeed, for the levels of radiation which might reasonably be expected in this country, the mere fact of staying indoors in itself would provide a significant protection and this protection factor could be increased very substantially by carrying out the advised simple protective measures.

There is no plan to depart from the present policy which is directed not towards the construction of special shelters but towards the idea of domestic refuge rooms prepared by householders themselves with the aid of advice provided by the Department. Such advice is conveyed mainly in the Department's booklet "Bas Beatha" (available free of charge).

Except in so far as it is necessary to provide for fallout protection at control centres from which civilian and Army personnel would operate the arrangements for warning and advising the public, the position as regards shelter for the Army is the same as that for the public at large.