HC Deb 12 July 1928 vol 219 cc2464-6
50. Colonel WEDGWOOD (for Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY)

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will state what progress has been made or action taken in the sending of British assistance for the rescue of Captain Amundsen and the remaining members of the crew of the wrecked airship "Italia"?

The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Samuel Hoare)

There have been no further developments since the reply which was given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter) on 5th July.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not going to offer assistance on behalf of Great Britain? Is it not rather a reflection upon Great Britain that while other countries have been assisting we have taken no action?


The right hon. and gallant Member is under a misapprehension. I made an offer both to the Italian and Norwegian Governments. In the latter case, I offered to send four machines, but for various reasons, into which I need not go now, the offer was refused. I would remind the right hon. Member that the difficulty is not the difficulty of machines, but of landing on the ice and in the fog. I understand that there are quite a number of machines that could carry out the rescue, within reach of the marooned crew, but the difficulties are difficulties of fog and ice.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Under-Secretary gave a reply stating that no effort was made by the Air Force of this country?




I have here the answer given by the Under-Secretary. The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. If he will read that answer, he will see—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] I will read it if the House wishes it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] The answer given by the Under-Secretary was as follows: The first request from Norway, which was for the loan of two float seaplanes, was received in the Air Ministry on Saturday evening, and an immediate reply was despatched the same night intimating the readiness of the Royal Air Force to make these aircraft available and asking urgently for further particulars as to the type required. On Monday afternoon an answer was received to the effect that the machines required were not float seaplanes of service type but Moth light aeroplanes. An offer was at once made that the Royal Air Force should fly up to four machines of this type to Norway and there hand them over to the Norwegian authorities for use in such manner as they thought fit, since delivery by air appeared to be the quickest method available. The Norwegian Government, however, replied on Tuesday that they feared that under the latest arrangements made for the sailing of the relief vessel from Tromso the machines could not arrive in time, even if flown direct to Norway, and that, in these circumstances, whilst they warmly appreciated this ready offer of assistance, they regretted that they could not avail themselves of it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1928; cols. 1573–4, Vol. 219.]


I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman with respect to that particular question, but I would remind him that three weeks ago, in answer to my late colleague, the late Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Rose), the Under-Secretary made a statement that no efforts had been made—six weeks after the loss of the "Italia."


I have not the other answers available, but I feel sure that if the hon. Member will look at them he will find that what I have stated is literally correct, namely, that I made an offer both to the Italian and the Norwegian Governments, but for one reason or another those offers were refused.


I will look them up.