4 APRIL 1958, Page 7

MR. R. A. BUTLER survived his television grilling on the

H-bomb much better than I had expected : but this was partly because the grillers were never allowed to make things very hot for him. The BBC, presumably in the belief that there is safety in numbers, had a panel of no fewer than six people to ask the questions; and in the ensuing scramble for places in the queue the threads of the argument were constantly being tangled. It is theoretically reasonable that anti-nuclear- weapon views as diverse as those of Sir Stephen King-Hall, Canon Collins and Michael Foot (the others had fewer openings) should all be heard; but the effect of jumping from one to the other and back again was to make the programme muzzy. What emerged is that the Government is becoming more realistic about the uses and limita- tions of the deterrent; but that it is not at all realistic about the need for carrying Western public opinion along with it. And nothing that Mr. Butler said disposes of the fear that if the British and American Governments do not act quickly, nuclear weapons will soon be manu- factured all over the place. We have only to realise. that the next country to produce them may be France, to realise how dangerous this would be.

* * *