HC Deb 08 December 1926 vol 200 cc2097-9

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will have inquiries made into the threat to Sir Alan Cobham by certain oil companies that if he availed himself of the use of petrol supplied by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries while in Australia they would prevent the completion of his Empire flight by refusing him supplies at their supply stations between Darwin and London; whether he will publish the names of the oil companies which have so acted; and what other steps, if any, he proposes to take in the matter?

42. Mr. J. HUDSON

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will in- quire into the action of certain oil companies who refused to supply petrol for the flight back to London of Sir Alan Cobham, if he used in Australia the petrol which on his request the Australian Government refiners had provided for him; and whether he will publish the names of the companies, and will take action against them when next British Government oil contracts are being considered?


Since this matter was last raised I have learned that Sir Alan Cobham has categorically stated, both in a Press interview and in correspondence subsequently published, that there has been a misunderstanding. The suggestions made in these questions evidently reflect this misunderstanding. I may add that Sir Alan Cobham's great flight was only rendered possible as a result of the assistance given him by, amongst others, these oil companies who arranged for him to be supplied with petrol throughout free of charge. In these circumstances I see no need for official action.


Is the hon. Member not, aware that these allegations were specifically made by Mr. Bruce, the Prime Minister of Australia, in the House of Representatives on the 3rd August, 1926, and have not been disputed or denied in Australia?


I am afraid I cannot add anything to the answer already given, except to emphasise that this flight would never have been possible if it had not been for the assistance given by the oil companies, and that is the only aspect which concerns my Department.


If I hand to the hon. Member an official copy of the Australian "Hansard" for that date, containing these allegations, will he make inquiries into the specific allegations and publish the names of the oil companies?


Is it not a fact that this misunderstanding was a very gross misunderstanding on the part of an oil supply company, that there was no misunderstanding on the part of Sir Alan Cobham, and is the hon. Member content to allow this disgraceful incident to pass without some expression of disapproval?


The hon. and gallant Member is giving an opinion.


Does the hon. Member still press the point that he prefers to take his information regarding this matter from an alleged Press interview rather than from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Australian Parliament, in which this statement has been made most explictly by one of our Dominion Premiers?


Sir Alan Cobham has categorically stated that there was a. misunderstanding. That is the only thing with which I am concerned. It is quite obvious that Sir Alan Cobham had to make the arrangements for his fuel supply before starting on his flight.


Is it nut a fact that Sir Alan Cobham did request the Australian people to supply him with petrol and was threatened that in case they did so the oil companies referred to would prevent the return journey?