On 18th April , Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling made a statement in the House of Commons in response to the public outcry over the retention of tissue samples and whole organs from deceased workers in the nuclear industry without next of kin knowledge or permission.
During the morning it emerged that there were six such cases relating workers at AW(R)E Aldermaston. NIS was able to get a message during the speech, to Liberal Democrate MP, Susan Kramer on the floor of the House who was then able to ask the Minister about incidents at AWE.
From Hansard :
Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD): I join others in expressing my deep sympathy to the families affected by what went on, and to those who fear that they might be so affected. I am sure that the whole House understands the anxiety that they must be feeling. I also thank the Secretary of State for his attempt to let me know last night about the statement that he has made: if I was elusive, it was because I was in the House.
I very much welcome the inquiry that the Secretary of State has announced. Although I recognise that he had no information about the matter until last Friday, and that the events about which we have heard took place quite a few years ago, I reiterate that we believe that it is very important that citizens are respected in death as they are in life. The ghastly nature of the events that have been described means that it is important to establish that body parts should not be used for research without the appropriate permissions.
However, I want to ask the Secretary of State a number of questions. He talked about the difficulty of accessing information and coroners’ records. When the events that have been described took place, a Government authority, the Central Electricity Generating Board, managed our nuclear power plants. Were the CEGB records fully transferred to BNFL, or have some of them stayed in the Government’s possession, perhaps even in the archives of the Department of Trade and Industry? Has he researched that angle, as the information contained in them would clearly be vital?
As the Secretary of State said, the Alder Hey investigation took place a few years ago, so it is beyond belief that other organisations, especially those associated with Government in any way, shape or form, should not have seen that event as a trigger for their own investigations into practices that might have operated in their organisation. Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the inquiry to explore why the decisions
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and events at Alder Hey did not lead to disclosure of the series of events in this case some years ago? That leads to the obvious question that if BNFL did not use that opportunity to examine its records, which other organisations failed to do so, too?
The hon. Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry), who spoke for the Conservatives, mentioned the other nuclear facilities that may have been involved and the possibility that the practice extended to military as well as civilian personnel, which we believe ought to fall within the remit of the investigation. Will the Secretary of State emphasise that point?
There are particular concerns that there may have been far more extensive practice at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston and Burghfield than has been revealed by the cases that have surfaced so far, so the question in everybody’s mind is whether the 65 cases are the tip of an iceberg or are they—