24. Captain FABER
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, seeing that Lieutenant Harrison's death on the Cody was due to deterioration of a machine purchased second-hand, and that Lieutenant Arthur's death was caused by the existence of an unsuspected and concealed repair, he will guarantee that he will discontinue the practice of buying up second- 1047 hand machines, of which a less accurate history can be known than of the machines which are bought new or manufactured, in view of the fact that an unsuspected repair existed even in Lieutenant Arthur's aeroplane manufactured at the Royal Aircraft Factory; and whether the officer commanding the military wing has been instructed to carry out his duties with more care?
§ Mr. TENNANT
The statements and suggestions contained in this question are, as I have already stated to the House, devoid of foundation. In the first case, the machine was the winner of the first prize in the competition last August, open to all nations, and became the property of the Government in accordance with the conditions of that competition; in the second case, the machine was of the B.E. type, acknowledged to be of exceptional excellence and with a remarkable record of safety. The unauthorised repair secretly executed and concealed had nothing whatever to do with the type of machine. In both cases, in accordance with the rules laid down, most careful inspection was made before the flights took place. With regard to the concluding paragraph of the question, all the officers on whom the duty of inspection falls are themselves practical and experienced flying men, and I cannot too strongly deprecate these unfounded suggestions of lack of care on their part.
May I ask whether it is not better that men should not be killed riding on second-hand machines than that I should be accused of making accusations against the Secretary of State?
§ Mr. LEE
May I ask whether the system of inspection has been overhauled or improved since this accident took place? Is it not a fact that, although inspection was carried out, a defect in the machine on which Lieutenant Arthur was killed was not discovered, and does not that point to the necessity of improving the system of inspection hitherto in force?
§ Mr. TENNANT
The hon. Gentleman is no doubt correct in saying that unfortu- 1048 nately this accident did take place after inspection had been made. That clearly points to the necessity of the inspection being made as perfect as possible. That, of course, is done. I should like to make it clear to the hon. Gentleman and to the House that no one regrets these accidents more than we do.
Were not eight machines bought, of which seven had to be overhauled before they were used?