BMA's report explodes at Westminster

W. Russell
1983 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
The report of the inquiry by the British Medical Association's board of science into the medical effects of nuclear war has exploded at Westminster and looks like heating up the debate on nuclear policy. The government's initial reaction to the report (12 March, p 910) has been to see it in terms of aiding the unilateral cause, and Mr Michael Heseltine, the Secretary of State for Defence, questioned some of its assumptions. He claimed that the report had gone for the worst possible assumptions
more » ... n reaching its conclusions. He denied that it was right to suggest that all civil defence was useless, maintaining that governments had to plan against a range of contingencies. To state the worst circumstances in order to refuse to plan for any lesser contingency was irresponsible. The same attitude was taken by Mr Patrick Mayhew, the Minister of State at the Home Office who is responsible for civil defence. He said that the report gave a misleading impression and that politicians did -not need doctors to tell them that nuclear attack could damage health. "What we are in the business of providing is preventive medicine," he said. Mr Mayhew did not dispute the conclusions, but what he thought misleading was that an attack on the scale envisaged in the report would be probable if war came. He believed that there was a whole range of possibilities, and that it was the government's duty to plan for them while pursuing policies aimed at preventing any war happening at all. "The report invites people to say that because the consequences of such a war would be so
doi:10.1136/bmj.286.6369.994 fatcat:2ohfooamcbdxppaire7kh6iieq